FEARS of an escalation in dissident republican terrorist attacks heightened yesterday after a car bomb attack near Derry city centre.
Even though police said nearly 60 people have already been charged this year for dissident activity, security chiefs are becoming increasingly concerned by the developing threat from hard-liners trying to derail the peace process.
Two police officers were injured in the latest attack, believed to have been carried out by the Real IRA.
The Derry bomb – believed to have contained more than 200lb of explosives packed into a Vauxhall Corsa – exploded just after midnight, damaging a branch of theUlster Bank and shops in front of Da Vinci’s hotel in Culmore Road.
The negative impact of the blast last night saw Italian football officials requesting security information ahead of their Euro 2012 qualifier against Northern Ireland on Friday, though football authorities in Belfast said that they expect the Italians to arrive in the city for the game as planned.
Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, in Birmingham for the Conservative Party conference, said he was disgusted by the attack in his native city.
Mr McGuinness said: “These conflict junkies are attempting to drive a city living very much to the future back to the past.
“People in this city are horrified that there are still these Neanderthals within our society.”
There had been a warning around an hour before the blast and several people, including hotel guests, residents in a nursing home and people living nearby, were evacuated.
There were claims that the attack was timed to coincide with Mr McGuinness attending the Tory conference where he spoke at a fringe meeting.
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