Army experts forced to deal with surge in hoax bomb threats

ARMY bomb disposal experts have been called out to deal with a sharp rise in hoax emergencies this year, figures show.

These false alarms involve fake devices that resemble a potential bomb or explosive device, typically used by criminals to intimidate, warn or terrorise their targets.

Figures released by Defence Minister Willie O’Dea and the defence forces show that the army’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams have been called out 180 times this year, up to November 15.

This is equal to the number for the whole of 2008 and almost double that for 2007 (98).

Figures released by Mr O’Dea to the Dáil and figures supplied to the Irish Examiner by the defence forces show there have been:

* 78 hoax bombs in 2009, compared to 58 in 2008 and only nine in 2007.

* 33 call-outs involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) this year, compared to 54 in 2008 and 23 in 2007.

* 14 incidents for the removal of old military material, compared to 27 in 2008 and 23 in 2007.

The balance of call-outs over the years include flares, objects washed ashore and other items.

Mr O’Dea told the Dáil that EOD teams respond to requests for assistance by the gardaí in dealing with suspect devices and the removal of old ordnance.

He said: “The defence forces EOD team is required to treat all devices as suspect until the EOD officer confirms the nature of the device at the scene.”

A spokesman for the defence forces said there were a number of EOD teams on call 24/7.

“The personnel that man these teams come from the Army Ordnance Corps. They are weapons and ammunition experts,” he said.

“The defence forces have an internationally recognised skill in this area as a result of dealing with IEDs in Ireland as a result of the Troubles, and also dealing with devices on our deployments overseas in Lebanon and Liberia in the past and currently in Kosovo and Chad.”


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