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Analysis: Bomb attack on police officer a possible response to Operation Arbacia

The attempted bombing would appear to be the latest New IRA response to Operation Arbacia, a major step-up in the PSNI and MI5 targeting of the organisation
Seamus McKinney

Had those behind the attempted murder of a County Derry police woman achieved their aim, they would have condemned her and possibly her three-year-old daughter to the most horrific deaths imaginable.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Mark McEwan said the involvement of dissident republicans was a strong line of the police investigation. ACC McEwan also revealed that what he described as a firebomb was placed at the back of the officer’s car where her three-year-old daughter normally sat.

The attempted bombing would appear to be the latest New IRA response to Operation Arbacia, a major step-up in the PSNI and MI5 targeting of the organisation, focusing for the greater part on urban areas.

Last August, nine people were charged with offences linked to dissident republicans. There has also been a change in the number of and nature of searches linked to dissidents, with police adopting a much heavier approach.

Last week Derry and Strabane PSNI commander, Chief Superintendent Darrin Jones appeared to confirm as much.

Addressing the investigation of paramilitary-style shootings, he said: “We have robustly targeted the gangs involved in order to degrade their capability and arrest and charge them with other crimes they are involved in.”

The Dungiven attack would appear to be the dissident paramilitary group’s response to that escalation. With the PSNI and MI5 clampdown on Derry and Belfast, the organisation has refocused to rural areas, in this case a small community about two miles from Dungiven.

In leaving a fire bomb between the officer’s car and home, those responsible displayed a ruthless determination. They also showed once again that they have scant regard for anyone caught in the vicinity of their intended targets.

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