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Northern Ireland: New IRA says EFP mortar used in March 21 attack on police

Irish republican paramilitary group the New IRA says it struck a police vehicle with an explosively formed projectile mortar in Strabane on March 21

The dissident Irish republican paramilitary group known as the New IRA claimed on March 26 it struck a police vehicle with an explosively formed projectile mortar in Strabane on March 21, The Irish News reported.

Three police officers escaped injury in the attack.

Using a recognised codeword to verify its authenticity, a statement from the organisation said it fired the device at a Police Service of Northern Ireland patrol car on Townsend Street.

The group claims the EFP mortar contained Semtex and was fired from a distance of nine feet. It said the device was triggered by command wire.

The statement said the device was moved from a different firing position elsewhere in the town earlier on March 21, and added that an attempt to target a police vehicle on Townsend Street an hour before the attack was abandoned because of the presence of civilians.

The PSNI on March 24 described the Strabane device as “a roadside bomb with a command wire attached.”

EFPs, which are designed to penetrate armour, have been used by the New IRA in Derry and Belfast in the past. Unexploded EFPs have been recovered by the security forces in various locations across the country.

On March 24, a 20-year-old man was arrested in Newtownstewart in connection with the attack. The arrest of a 31-year-old man followed on March 25. Police have been given additional time to question the 20-year-old.

Update March 28

On March 27, Saoradh, an Irish republican revolutionary political party, said two of its activists were arrested “by Crown forces” in Newtownstewart and Strabane, and taken to Musgrave police station for interrogation.

Founded in September 2016 and organised across the island of Ireland, Saoradh seeks to establish an all-island socialist republic.

The two men were released from custody unconditionally on March 29.

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