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Car bomb explodes at N.Ireland police station: police

A car bomb has exploded outside a police station in Northern Ireland, just days after a failed bid to attack the same target, police said.

The blast in Newtownhamilton, County Armagh, happened at around 11:25 pm (2225 GMT) Thursday, said a spokeswoman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. There were no reports of any injuries.

“Police were made aware that a vehicle had been abandoned in the area after a telephone call was received by a Belfast hospital at around 10:30 pm (2130 GMT),” said the spokeswoman.

“Police were en route to the scene at the time of the explosion.”

Local lawmaker Dominic Bradley, of the SDLP party, said firemen in the area were alerted to a suspicious vehicle after hearing a series of gunshots at about 10:40 pm (2140 GMT).

“They immediately set about evacuating the area, involving shopkeepers and local people,” he said.

The local fire and ambulance services sealed off the area and stopped motorists from entering, he added.

It came around a week and a half after the army defused a car bomb outside the same police station.

A Peugeot 406 car filled with containers of flammable liquid was left at the gates of the station on April 13, according to police.

Thursday’s attack also came amid an upsurge of violence in the province and police warnings that the threat from dissident republicans seeking to destabilise the peace process was at its most severe for more than a decade.

Recent targetings of the courthouse in Newry, the MI5 intelligence headquarters outside Belfast and the policing board headquarters in Belfast have sent shudders through the security services on both sides of the Irish border.

A senior police source warned Thursday that rebel republicans in Northern Ireland are a greater threat now than at any time since the Omagh bombing in August 1998, when 29 people died.

“The situation has got worse since the threat was raised to ‘severe’,” said the source.

“This is probably as severe a situation as we have seen since that Real IRA bombing campaign of 1997 going into 1998.

“It feels to us, just looking at it in every way, that this has picked up in terms of intensity and severity.”