Metropolitan Police Service photo

Border and Terrorism Concerns for UK as IRA Claims Responsibility for Parcel Bombs

London’s Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command is treating cautiously a claim of responsibility for explosive parcels that were delivered to three buildings in London and the University of Glasgow on March 5 and 6.

The claim was received on March 11 by a media outlet in Northern Ireland using a recognized codeword and was allegedly made on behalf of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

The investigations into these devices continue and relevant enquiries are being made in relation to the claim that has been made, the statement said. It added that given the packages received last week bore similarities to devices sent in the past which were linked to dissident groups associated with Northern Ireland-related terrorism, officers were already looking at this as a line of enquiry.

The statement read: “We are also aware that those claiming responsibility have indicated five devices were sent. At this time, only four devices have been recovered.”

Extensive advice has already been issued to relevant businesses and sectors to be vigilant for and report suspicious packages to police. This advice was previously sent to armed forces personnel and is being reiterated again in light of the IRA claim.

The deliveries on March 5 to transport hubs in London were followed by a suspicious package being received at the University of Glasgow on March 6. The package was not opened and no one was injured. The emergency services were alerted and several buildings within the estate were evacuated as a precaution. Specialist officers subsequently carried out a controlled explosion of the device.

A peace agreement was signed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army two decades ago, but a group calling itself the New IRA has never accepted this.

The suspicious packages and subsequent claims come at a time when the UK is embroiled in Brexit negotiations which center around the border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU). Currently, the border between the two countries is largely invisible but there is concern that the IRA – or a splinter group like New IRA – could restart attacks if a hard border is reinstated as a result of Brexit.

Kylie Bull has 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. She is an editor and contributor for Jane's by IHS Markit, a columnist for security and counter-terror publications, and a former managing editor for Homeland Security Today.

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