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Irish dissidents issue threat ahead of Queen's visit

A dissident Irish republican group has threatened to kill more police officers ahead of the Queen's historic visit next month. The Real IRA also told the British monarch she is not welcome on Irish soil.

Britiain's Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen will visit the Irish Republic in May

A republican splinter group, the Real IRA, has threatened to kill more police officers in Northern Ireland and declared its opposition to the British Queen's historic first visit to the Republic of Ireland next month.

Police in Northern Ireland stepped up security operations this weekend because they believe militant groups are intent on trying to murder officers in the coming days and weeks.

Since the Good Friday peace agreement was signed in 1998, three decades of conflict in Northern Ireland have largely come to an end. But more recently, sporadic violence has been increasing. In April, militants killed a police officer for the first time in two years, detonating a bomb under his car.

Mourners carry the coffin of a Catholic policeman murdered by the Real IRA in April

The killing of a Catholic policeman by IRA dissidents strained tensions in April

Recent attacks, like the murder of Ronan Kerr, have been aimed at newly-recruited Catholic police officers, who - under a targeted recruitment drive - now make up 30 percent of the force. Police officers in Northern Ireland used to be almost always Protestant.

The Real IRA said on Monday they would target police officers "regardless of their religion, cultural background or motivation".

Historic visit

The statement, read by a masked man in paramilitary uniform and filmed by a BBC camera crew, called on nationalists to demonstrate against Queen Elizabeth II's visit, the first by a British monarch since before Ireland gained its independence from Britain in 1921.

"The Queen of England is wanted for war crimes in Ireland and not wanted on Irish soil," the masked man said.

The 85-year-old monarch is planning to visit some of the most symbolic memorials of Ireland's struggle for independence, underlining how relations have blossomed between the two countries since Northern Ireland's violent period known as "The Troubles" came to an end.

The visit is scheduled from May 17 to 20.

Author: Joanna Impey (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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