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Dissident grenade attackers must be apprehended

The grenade attack in west Belfast early yesterday is a sharp reminder that there are groups in our society determined to make any difficult situation much worse.

We are in the middle of a fractious and divisive election campaign with some people resorting to abuse and intimidation rather than reasoned debate.

It is also the case that many unionists are alarmed at the prospect of Boris Johnson's withdrawal deal and its implications for the Union.

These are uncertain and worrying times and one thing we know about malign forces is that they will always try to exploit any fears or heighten any tensions in a bid to further their own sinister ends.

Dissident republicans are being blamed for this latest attack, which was clearly aimed at killing or injuring PSNI officers.

Fortunately, no one was hurt when a grenade was thrown at a police Land Rover at Milltown Row off the Falls Road around 2am.

Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts confirmed the vehicle on routine patrol was struck by the device before a loud bang was heard.

He said the remnants of the grenade have been taken away for forensic examination while further searches were conducted in case of further devices.

It is profoundly depressing that at the end of 2019, there are armed groups setting out under cover of darkness to murder their fellow citizens.

We have had decades of violence that have delivered only pain and suffering.

It has not yet been determined which element of dissident republicanism is behind this attack but we can be sure that the numbers involved are small as is the level of support that exists in the wider community.

This week also marks the first anniversary of the murder of Jim Donegan, shot dead outside a school in west Belfast.

Detectives believe that two republican paramilitary groups - the INLA and ONH - were involved in the murder.

This was an absolutely despicable crime and it is regrettable that no one has been convicted, despite a number of arrests.

Given that the gunman was caught on CCTV, it is worrying that such a dangerous individual remains at large.

Anyone who can assist the police in bringing this killer to justice or identifying those responsible for yesterday's attack, should come forward.






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