Police in Northern Ireland have now arrested four suspects in a recent and rare Londonderry car bombing, and they are trying to determine whether a republican dissident group called the New IRA is behind the event that luckily destroyed only property, and there were no injuries.
The Daily Beast says that even though the area is no stranger to protests or political violence from various splinter groups, car bombings are now rare. This bomb was exploded outside a courthouse in Londonderry and blew up several cars and motorcycles.
The New IRA is opposed to the 1998 peace accord that brought an end to violence in the British run region, which has seen its share of tension between Protestant and Catholic groups.
Police and other law enforcement sources in Ireland and Northern Ireland are concerned that border tightening as a result of Brexit will encourage militant groups to spark more trouble.
The BBC reports that the first two men arrested are in their early 20s, while the second two are 34 and 42. A pizza delivery van was hijacked at around 6 p.m. local time in Derry on the January 19. The bomb went off two hours later using what is called a “crude device.”
— Reuters UK (@ReutersUK) January 21, 2019
There is CCTV footage of the explosion, which is what led to the four arrests so far. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton was left outside the courthouse on Bishop Street just after 7 p.m. A warning was called into the West Midland Police, and the car was routed to Northern Ireland just before the explosion, allowing for time to clear the area, says ACC Hamilton.
“In the intervening minutes, we had already found the car and were starting to evacuate the area. Clearly, it was a very significant attempt to kill people here in this community. Thankfully, the local community and the police service acted bravely together and we got everybody away just in time. But the bomb detonated just as we were leaving the area.”
The area remains cordoned off as the investigation is ongoing. Hamilton says the concern is that groups like the New IRA want to take people in the region back to a darker time.
“The new IRA, like most dissident republican groups in Northern Ireland, are small, largely unrepresentative and determined to drive people back to somewhere they do not want to be.”
Witnesses say they saw a ball of fire moving down the street after police cleared a nearby hotel and a church youth club.