N. Ireland policeman killed in car bomb attack

2nd April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Catholic policeman was killed Saturday in Omagh, the scene of Northern Ireland's worst terror atrocity, in a car bomb attack at his home that will cause jitters about the delicate peace process.

The victim, aged 25, had only finished his training to become a police officer three weeks ago, a local politician, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

Responsibility for the attack has yet to be claimed.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland can now confirm that a man has been killed in the explosion in Omagh," a PSNI spokeswoman said.

"A device detonated under the 25-year-old's car at Highfield Close on the Gortin Road shortly before 4:00 pm (1500 GMT)."

Omagh, the main town of County Tyrone, was the scene of the deadliest terror attack of the Troubles, the three decades of sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics which was largely ended by the April 1998 peace accords.

The Real Irish Republican Army splinter group killed 29 people, including a pregnant woman, and wounded around 200 others in the August 1998 attack.

The man is only the second member of the PSNI to be killed since it succeeded the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 2001 as part of the peace process.

The threat level for terrorism related to Northern Ireland, set by Britain's Home Office interior ministry, is set at severe in the province.

It is the second-highest of five levels of terror threat and means a terror attack is considered highly likely.

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process have stepped up paramilitary activity in recent months.

The timing of the attack is is significant as the Northern Ireland Assembly dissolved last week ahead of elections to be held on May 5.

It was the first time that the devolved, power-sharing administration -- a keystone in the peace process -- had completed a full four-year term.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny described the attack as a heinous and pointless act of terror.

"Those who carried it out want to drag us back to the misery and pain of the past," he said.

"They are acting in defiance of the Irish people.

"They must know that they can never succeed in defeating the democratic will of the people."

© 2011 AFP

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