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Police Link Recent Parcel Bombs to Those Sent to British Army in 2014

British counter terror police investigating a series of parcel bombs sent to locations in London and Glasgow in March this year have found a link between these devices and those previously sent to British Army recruitment centers in 2014.

On March 5 2019, three packages containing small incendiary devices were delivered to transport hubs in London. The following day, a fourth package was recovered at the University of Glasgow. On March 22, a fifth package was recovered, having been returned to a postal depot in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. This package has since been forensically examined and is being treated as part of the same series.

The investigation into the devices is being carried out by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command and Police Scotland, in conjunction with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and in liaison with counterparts at An Garda Síochána in the Republic of Ireland, which is leading the investigation into the package recovered in Limerick. No arrests have been made at this stage and enquiries continue.

On March 11, a claim of responsibility for the packages was made by a group claiming to be the ‘New IRA’. A peace agreement was signed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army two decades ago, but the New IRA has never accepted this. Enquiries are ongoing but police currently believe the devices were indeed sent by a violent dissident republican group due to known code words and other intelligence.

Further analysis of the five packages has since been carried out by forensic experts and, due to particular similarities between the devices and the methodology, the investigation teams are now formally linking the packages to those sent to various British Army recruitment centers in 2014, and this is forming a “key element” of the investigation.

Suspect packages were sent to military careers offices in Oxford, Brighton, Canterbury and the Queensmere shopping center in Slough in February 2014.  These followed similar packets that were sent to Aldershort, Reading and the RAF careers office in Chatham, Kent. A number of the packages had Dublin postmarks on them and were thought to contain low grade explosives.

At the time, the terror group sent a coded statement to a Northern Irish newspaper, saying: “The IRA claims responsibility for the explosive devices that were sent to British armed forces recruitment centers in England. Attacks will continue when and where the IRA see fit.”

Police are now appealing for anyone who may have information about the origins of the March parcel bombs or who handled them, to come forward and help them with their enquiries. Detectives are particularly keen to hear from any postal workers who may have come into contact with the devices between 1 March and 22 March.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, Senior National Coordinator for the UK’s Counter Terrorism Policing, said: “We are looking to identify any postal workers who may remember handling any of the packages between 1 March and 22 March.

“We have recovered forensic evidence following examination of the devices. You may have information that could help us with our investigation and it would also help with our forensic enquiries to be able to eliminate anyone who may have innocently come into contact with any of the five parcels after they were posted.”

Kylie Bielby 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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