Bomb attacks soar in bitter gang wars
INLA ‘expertise’ used to construct devices
By Tom Brady Security Editor
Thursday April 17 2008
CRIMINAL gangs are responsible for a big increase in the number of callouts involving army bomb disposal teams so far this year.
The gangs are using crude explosive devices to send warnings to thugs in rival factions, settle scores in local feuds, or to threaten figures targeted for extortion.
If the number of callouts continues at the present rate this year they will end up double those recorded in 2007.
Although use of the devices has been confined largely to 'ordinary' criminals in the past 18 months, senior garda and army officers are satisfied that former paramilitaries are hiring out their 'expertise' to manufacture them.
The increasing use of pipebombs and other devices is underlined in the latest military figures showing that army ordnance teams have been called out to 42 incidents in the first three months of this year.
Two further incidents on Monday and yesterday take the total to 44.
If the trend continues for the rest of 2008. it would bring the overall total up to around 160, compared with an annual total of just 98 in 2007 and 101 the previous year.
The statistics also show there have been a dozen hoax calls so far this year, one more than the total for all of 2007 and four more than 2006.
A hoax device is made up to resemble a bomb but has no explosive content.
But the Army points out that although the hoax does not present any danger to life, it involves a similar amount of effort by the gardai to evacuate an area and a full callout of Army personnel while creating fear and concern among the residents of the local area.
A detailed examination of the devices have found similarities between a number of them, adding to the belief that many of the gangs are using the same bomb makers.
All of them are crudely manufactured and largely unsophisticated and for explosive content the makers depend mainly on fireworks or shotgun cartridges.
Sometimes, nails are added as fragmentation to cause potentially greater injury and shock when a device explodes.
A special garda team, led by a detective superintendent, has been investigating the bomb attacks in a bid to source the manufacturers and narrow the list of gangs using the devices.
But both garda and army officers are satisfied that members of the INLA, which is now involved full-time in criminal activity, and other dissident republicans have been selling their limited bomb-making skills to the criminals.
Meanwhile, a suspect device planted near the entrance to the Richmond courthouse in North Brunswick Street, in Dublin, has turned out to be an elaborate hoax.
Traffic restrictions were put in place in the area while army ordnance experts dealt with the device yesterday morning.
- Tom Brady Security Editor