Real IRA threatens attacks on banks

Dissident Northern Ireland republican group warns it will step up campaign of violence with bankers seen as new target.

    A dissident republican group in Northern Ireland has threatened to target bankers and financial institutions as it warned it would resume attacks on mainland Britain.

    In an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper published on Wednesday, leaders of the Real IRA (Rira) said future attacks would alternate between "military, political and economic targets".

    "We have a track record of attacking high-profile economic targets and financial institutions such as the City of London," the group said in a written exchange.

    "The role of bankers and the institutions they serve in financing Britain's colonial and capitalist system has not gone unnoticed."

    Fears of deadly attacks

    The nationalist group, which is estimated to have around 100 activists, said it had "regrouped and reorganised".

    "As we rebuild, we are confident that we will increase the volume and effectiveness of attacks," the paper quoted leaders as saying.

    The threat is the latest attempt by the group, which formed after breaking away from the Provisional IRA when the latter was engaging in peace talks, to undermine British rule of the province.

    Earlier this month, police in Northern Ireland said the Rira was continuing to recruit members in Northern Ireland and in the Irish republic.

    "The threat is still very much alive and there are a number of key players," a senior source told the Dundalk Democrat paper.

    Fears were also raised in August after a bomb attack outside a school that injured three people appeared to have similarities to the Rira's Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people.

    A senior police officer said a vague warning that a bomb had been left at a primary school, when the device was left a few streets away, recalled the inaccurate telephone warning of the 1998 attack.

    'Lack of resources'

    In April Britain's Times newspaper also reported that the Rira could be planning a campaign of violence on the British mainland, citing security sources.

    It said Liverpool, Birmingham and London, cities with significant Irish populations, had been discussed as potential targets.

    In the same month the group claimed responsibility for a car bomb that exploded outside an army barracks in Northern Ireland

    However security sources in the British province cited by the Guardian said the Rira lacks the logistical resources to carry out a major bombing campaign.

    The Rira split from the IRA in 1997 over that group's involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process, which in 1998 ended 30 years of fighting between minority Irish Republican Catholics and Protestants, a conflict that killed more than 3,600 people.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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