EXCLUSIVE: POLICE chiefs have warned officers to be on heightened alert over an escalation in attacks by dissident republicans.
It follows a gun ambush on PSNI officers in west Belfast on Thursday and the discovery of a bomb in a follow up search.
Belfast Daily understands intelligence in the hands of police bosses has warned that Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) is planning to step up its gun and bomb campaign on the security forces in the coming weeks.
Officers reporting for duty since Thursday have been alerted to the threat to their lives both on and off duty following fresh information gleaned by the PSNI’s C3 Intelligence Branch.
They have been told the attacks could include:
* undercar booby trap devices planted under their cars at home addresses:
* pipe bomb devices thrown at police vehicles;
* bogus call outs for a potential gun ambush.
A security source told Belfast Daily: “All police are now on heightened alert, particularly in the Greater Belfast area.
“They have been told to step up their personal security around their homes.
“They have also been told to be on the alert further gun attacks when answering ‘shouts’ about burglaries, car thefts etc.
“These are dangerous times and all officers are having to step up their guard for further attacks in the coming weeks.”
On Friday, abomb was removed from the Foxes Glen area of west Belfast where a gun attack ambush was carried out on officers on Thursday.
The device was found during follow-up searches related to the gun attack.
A controlled explosion was earlier carried out on the device. Residents moved from their homes were later allowed to return to their homes
Up to six shots were fired as three officers got out of their vehicle in the area on Thursday afternoon. No-one was injured.
A parked car was hit by the gunfire.
Police had been lured to the area following bogus reports of a burglary.
A 26-year-old man arrested over the attack has been released without charge.
Replica guns and a small quantity of ammunition were also recovered during searches of the area on Friday.
Police have apologised for the latest disruption to residents of Foxes Glen.
Detective Chief Inspector Karen Baxter said: “Our aim is to ensure the safety of the local community and police and to protect everyone.
“We would ask the public for their patience and understanding as this policing operation continues.”
Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said the gun attack would have created only “huge misery and heartbreak” had the officers been killed or injured.”
He told Radio Ulster that he is very conscious that “there are people out there who are totally opposed to the peace process who are dedicated to trying to plunge society back into the past”.
“I think it is absolutely disgraceful that three police officers were shot at in west Belfast,” he told the Inside Politics programme.