The Northern Ireland dissident group known as the New IRA has claimed responsibility for four small parcel bombs mailed to London and Glasgow, U.K. police said on Tuesday, March 12.
The claim, which mentioned five packages, was received on Monday by Belfast-based newspaper The Irish News.
Police said a recognized codeword was used.
“The claim was allegedly made on behalf of the ‘IRA,'” the Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland said in a joint statement about the bombs discovered on March 5 and 6.
“Enquiries are being made in relation to the claim.”
“Given the packages received last week bore similarities to devices sent in the past which were linked to dissident groups associated with Northern Ireland-related terrorism, officers were already looking at this as a line of enquiry.”
On March 5, suspicious packages were found at an office block next to London Heathrow Airport, the post room at London Waterloo railway terminus, and at offices near London City Airport.
The following day, a further package was received at Glasgow University.
Nobody was injured and police have made no arrests.
Police said on March 6 that the devices appeared capable of igniting an initially small fire when opened.
The New IRA said three parcels were sent to “commercial targets,” the Irish News reported.
Two others were posted to British Army recruitment officers, including one sent to Glasgow University, intended for a British army recruitment officer who works there. A fifth device has not been discovered.
The packages had Irish stamps affixed and the return addresses were given as Dublin.
On March 7, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said it had uncovered a “significant” terrorist weapons hide containing mortar parts close to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
In February, searches conducted by Gardai (Irish police) near Omeath, around 10 km (6 miles) east on the other side of the border, first uncovered a mortar tube and a “substantial” quantity of ammunition, and later explosives, firearms and a “sizeable” quantity of ammunition.
The operations on both sides of the border come after a car bomb exploded outside a courthouse in the the city of Derry in the northwest of Northern Ireland in January. The New IRA was blamed for that attack.
The 1998 Good Friday or Belfast Agreement ended what is known as The Troubles, three decades of violence in Northern Ireland beginning in the late 1960s in which more than 3,500 people were killed, the majority by predominantly Catholic Irish republicans who want the reunification of Ireland, but also by Protestant loyalists who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, as well as the security forces.
The custom of using code words in telephoned warnings emerged around the IRA bombing campaign in the early 1970s, to mark them out from possible hoaxes.
The IRA called a final ceasefire in 1997 and announced an end to its armed campaign in 2005, stating that it would seek to achieve its aims through peaceful political means, but various dissident Irish republican groups opposed to the peace process have continued to use the name IRA.
The New IRA is the largest dissident republican paramilitary group. It was formed in 2012 after a merger of several smaller groups with the Real IRA.
In February 2014, the group claimed responsibility for devices sent to seven military recruitment centers across England, also with return addresses in Dublin.
The British security services consider that the current threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in mainland Britain is moderate, the second-lowest of five levels.
This means that an attack is considered possible but not likely.
The threat level within Northern Ireland is considered as severe, the second-highest level, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Police in Northern Ireland and Ireland have said that a return to a hard border on the island after Brexit could result in an increase in attacks by militant groups.
With reporting from AFP