A bomb attack on a prison officer in Northern Ireland may be the first of a number of dissident republican murder bids launched to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising, police have warned.
PSNI commanders expressed fears that violent dissidents are intent on killing security force members as a perverse way of commemorating the landmark anniversary.
The 52-year-old prison officer, a married father- of-three, required surgery after an explosive device detonated under the van he was driving to work in Belfast yesterday morning.
His condition was described as stable. The long-serving officer is based at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre in south Belfast and works as a trainer for new recruits to the NI Prison Service.
PSNI assistant chief constable Stephen Martin said he was extremely concerned about an upsurge in dissident activity ahead of the centenary commemorations.
Mr Martin said while the terror threat level in Northern Ireland had been categorised as ‘severe’ for a number of years he was now describing it as “the upper end of severe”.
“I believe there are people within dissident republican groupings who want to mark this centenary by killing police officers, prison officers and soldiers.
“I am saying that publicly. I am saying it deliberately, and I am saying I need the help of the community. That is not inevitable, this does not need to happen, but we need the support of the community.”
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