Thursday 22 February 2018

Huge surge in attacks over past five years

Tom Brady Security Editor

A HUGE surge in pipe bomb attacks over the past five years meant it was inevitable that a blast would result in loss of life or serious injury.

The tender age of yesterday's victim underlined the dangers posed by such indiscriminate attacks.

'Pipes' and other homemade bombs, known as improvised explosive devices, are readily available on the streets and are regularly used in gang feuds and as weapons of threat or extortion.

In the past few months there have been indications that they are now also being used to settle personal grievances arising out of minor disputes.

The increase in the number of attacks has heightened the prospects of homes being mistakenly targeted and innocent victims hurt.

Concerns over the rise prompted Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan last year to establish Operation Enchant to focus on those responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of the devices.

It has resulted in more than 70 arrests, with 23 suspects charged with a criminal offence and more than 30 files sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

But despite a number of significant arrests and seizures, the bombers have not been deterred.

Army bomb disposal teams have been called more than a hundred times so far this year.

In 2011 they were deployed to 236 call-outs and handled 54 viable improvised devices, which are built to ensure that detonation can cause harm, loss of life or damage to property -- a record number since the height of the Troubles in 1979.

Almost all of the pipe bombs recovered in the past two years have been crudely constructed but there is some evidence recently that a few manufacturers are becoming a little more sophisticated.

They appear to be mainly acquiring their knowledge on how to make them from the internet where training manuals on constructing the bombs are easily sourced.

A small group of Real IRA members are active in the use of explosive devices in the greater Dublin area, particularly on the northside, but anti-terrorist officers believe they are all involved in criminality and are using their dissident connections to scare off potential rivals.

Irish Independent

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