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No Casualties As Bomb Explodes In County Fermanagh

A senior police officer has appealed for political progress in Northern Ireland after a bomb attack in County Fermanagh.

Police blamed dissident republicans for the explosion near Wattlebridge, close to the Irish border, on Monday.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said it was a “reckless and indiscriminate” attempt to kill police officers. Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January 2017.

Power sharing collapsed in a row between Sinn Féin and the DUP over a flawed green-energy scheme. Attempts to restore it have so far failed.

DCC Martin said police believe Monday’s bomb attack may have been carried out by either the Continuity IRA or New IRA. He said there have been five attempts to murder police officers so far this year.

The device was uncovered during a security operation which was launched after a warning was received.

It is understood a hoax device was found on Sunday night and during a follow-up search of the area on Monday morning, a bomb went off.

Last month, dissident republicans tried to murder police officers during an attack in Craigavon, County Armagh.

At about 10:35 BST on Monday, police officers at the scene reported an explosion in the area of the Cavan Road at its junction with the Wattlebridge Road. There were no reports of any injuries and officers were investigating the cause of the explosion. The initial report received by police indicated that a device had been left on the Wattlebridge Road but the explosion occurred on the main A3 Cavan Road.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, DCC Martin said those behind the attack “bring nothing to society”. “The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism has not decreased, but remained at severe since 2009,” he said.

“I am of a firm belief this was a deliberate attempt to lure police and the Army disposal unit into the area. “The damage caused by the explosion is of a nature that we are of the view, if a person had been standing convenient to it, they would have been very badly injured or possibly killed.”

DCC Martin called for politicians to provide leadership within society.

“We need a society led by our politicians to absolutely set out, not just condemn, but to work collectively together,” he said. “Police play their part, but police on their own are not sufficient to say ‘you do not represent the society we want to live in’. “Many of us, and many have reflected to me, that things are becoming more entrenched and progress that has been made is maybe slipping back a bit.”

He added that area around the scene would remain closed for some time while police officers “conduct their investigations and ensure the area is safe”.