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Bomb detonates on Northern Ireland border

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 18, 2019 Protesters against Brexit and the possible imposition of any hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland gather with a banner at the border (marked where the tarmac changes and the lines change between white and yellow) between Derry (Londonderry) in Northern Ireland and County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland near the Irish village of Bridge End on April 18, 2019 ahead of a visit from the US speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spent his first weeks in office ramping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, but faces assessments it could be economically calamatous for the country. Johnson ordered government departments to “turbo-charge” contingency planning after taking power on July 24, 2019 promising “all necessary funding” beyond the £4.2 billion (4.6 billion euros, $5.1 billion) already allocated. But an analysis of the potential impact of a no-deal depature carried out by the government, and leaked August 18, 2019 to a newspaper, makes for grim reading. It predicts Britain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine, a three-month meltdown at its ports, a hard border with Ireland and rising costs in social care. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)

An explosive device described as an attempted trap for security forces detonated in a village on the Northern Ireland border on Monday but failed to injure anyone.

Police and bomb disposal experts had been working in the area of Newtownbutler over the weekend since receiving an initial report about a suspect device on Saturday.

“I am of the firm belief this was a deliberate attempt to lure police and ATO (Anti-Terrorism Officer) colleagues into the area to murder them,” Stephen Martin from the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement.

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Martin later told reporters that two Irish republican dissident groups, the New IRA and the Continuity IRA, “would be a very good starting point for the investigation”.

He added: “It’s fair to say their level of activity has increased this year.”

Concerns have grown that the possible return of a hard border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit could increase security tensions in the once war-torn province.

Martin said violent attacks had grown in recent months, calling on politicians to take action to heal enduring divisions in society.

“Terrorism of this nature is a societal problem,” he said. “We shouldn’t take our peace for granted.”

Three decades of conflict known as “the Troubles”, in which more than 3,500 people were killed, largely ended in Northern Ireland with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Violent incidents have continued, however.

In April, a journalist was shot dead by Irish republican dissidents during rioting in Londonderry.

“I strongly condemn the cowardly actions of those responsible for this bomb attack, which could have had devastating consequences,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement.

“There is never any justification to use violence to achieve political aims,” he said.

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