Northern Ireland: Blast targets police near border | News | DW | 20.08.2019
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Northern Ireland: Blast targets police near border

Police say it is the sixth blast targeting officers this year. A police chief warns that deadlock over Brexit is abetting such attacks.

Traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the village of Bridgend, Co Donegal.

Traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the village of Bridgend, Co Donegal

A device exploded in Northern Ireland near the border with Ireland early on Monday, in what police say was the sixth attempt to kill officers this year. There were no injuries reported.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, which hit near a busy road in County Fermanagh, close to the location where officers were investigating a suspicious device discovered on Saturday.

Northern Ireland has witnessed a rise in attacks in recent months, claimed by militant groups who oppose British rule and the 1998 peace accord, which ended 30 years of sectarian violence in the province.

Brexit uncertainty fueling tension

Northern Ireland deputy police chief Stephen Martin had no information linking Monday's attack to Brexit, but said he that uncertainty over the impact of Britain's departure from the EU and Northern Ireland's suspended government had coincided with other tensions and the attacks.

"We've six attempted attacks to murder police officers this year ... When you add all that up, we do believe that there is a time for reflection and a time to question what type of society we want to live in here," said Martin at a press conference.

"Many of us ... sense that things are becoming more entrenched and progress that has been made is slipping back a little bit."

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Memories of Troubles slow to fade in Northern Ireland

Police say they suspected that the Continuity IRA or New IRA, two small Irish nationalist militant groups who claimed responsibility for other recent attacks, were behind the explosion.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, spoke on the phone for almost an hour on Monday and plan to meet in Dublin in September to discuss Brexit and the Irish backstop, according to the Irish and British governments.

Read more: PM Johnson saves trickiest Brexit challenge, Northern Ireland, for last

Johnson has said Britain will leave the EU with or without a deal on October 31 of this year. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland continues to be one of the most contentious parts of the Brexit negotiations.

mc/kl (Reuters, AFP) 

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