The UK government, on the recommendation of the MI5 counterintelligence service, has raised the terrorist threat level in Northern Ireland from “significant” to “serious” (the fourth level out of five).
This is stated in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Minister for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris.
“The decision to change the threat level was made by MI5 independently of the ministers. MI5 has raised the threat level in Northern Ireland from “significant” (an attack is likely) to “serious” (an attack is highly likely). The public should remain vigilant, but not alarmed and continue to report any of their concerns to the Police of Northern Ireland,” it says.
The British authorities announced an increase in the threat level of terrorism in Ulster against the background of an investigation into an attempt on the life of a police officer in the city of Omagh, which occurred on February 22. Law enforcement agencies suspect the radical nationalist organization “New Irish Republican Army” in the attack.
Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was attacked with a firearm at the moment when he was taking his son home after football practice. Currently, a 48-year-old law enforcement officer is in hospital, his condition is assessed as stable.
According to the BBC, Caldwell, who worked in law enforcement for more than a quarter of a century, in particular, took part in the investigation of terrorist attacks in Ulster, organized by Irish Republicans. In the wake of the incident, 13 people were reported to have been detained in Northern Ireland within a month, who were released without charges after being interrogated by the police.
As the British media clarified, until the current case, the last time an attack on a police officer with a firearm was recorded in Northern Ireland in 2017. Last year, for the first time in more than 10 years, the authorities of the United Kingdom reduced the level of the terrorist threat associated with the problem of Northern Ireland from “serious” to “significant”.