20, August 2019
Police officers escaped injury after an explosive device detonated in Wattlebridge, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The bombing appears to have been a highly sophisticated trap involving a telephone warning and a hoax device discovered close to where the actual bomb exploded in a follow-up operation.
Army bomb disposal officers, who were deployed to the area at the weekend, initially declared the item to be a hoax. But, according to multiple reports, another device exploded on the main A3 Cavan Road on the morning of August 19th.
This well-planned attempt at killing and maiming Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and army bomb disposal officers has caused deep worry and anxiety amongst the security establishment in Northern Ireland.
PSNI Deputy Chief Constable, Stephen Martin, said he is of the “firm belief” the attack was designed to “lure” PSNI and army personnel into the area “to murder them”.
According to Martin, there have been five attempts to murder police officers this year and that the adverse security situation is becoming “more entrenched”.
The PSNI, and the broader security establishment in Northern Ireland, have lost no time in attributing the bombing to “dissident republicans”, which is often a reference to two groups, the Continuity IRA and the New IRA.
For their part, mainstream republicans in Sinn Fein have condemned the attack as “totally wrong”.
Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew, said: “Those responsible for this incident have nothing to offer society and need to end these actions immediately”.
This latest bombing occurs against the backdrop of an intensifying political crisis in Northern Ireland.
Power sharing arrangements and devolved government collapsed in January 2017 in the wake of a flawed green-energy scheme.
Furthermore, the looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit, and by extension the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, has caused deep anxiety in the nationalist/republican community.
In late July, Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald, called for an Irish unification referendum in the event of a no-deal Brexit and the return of a hard border.