New Semtex used in Belfast bomb attack, claim dissidents

The attack happened in west Belfast on Friday night

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Dissident republicans claim to have used newly acquired Semtex in a bomb attack on police in west Belfast.

A mortar was fired from a tube attached to railings at the City Cemetery at around 22:30 GMT on Friday.

It was detonated by a command wire. A family escaped injury when their car was hit by debris.

It was not possible to verify the claim that a new batch of Semtex was used as the police would not comment on the nature of the device.

If it was, it would be of huge concern to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and security services as it would be the first evidence that dissidents have managed to secure a new supply of weapons.

The attack on a police Land Rover is believed to have been carried out by the group calling itself the IRA, which killed prison officer David Black in November 2012.

Scorch marks on a masonry pillar and mangled metal suggest the mortar was fired from a tube attached to railings.

It is understood the mortar device contained a conical-shaped warhead designed to penetrate armour.

Damaged wall The mortar damaged masonry and railings when it was fired

The fact that a chunk of masonry was blown from the wall suggests the device may not have fired as planned and may not have struck its intended target.

Dissident republicans claim the mortar contained the military explosive Semtex and a commercial detonator.

They claim both were newly acquired - in other words, not from old supplies previously under the control of the Provisional IRA.

Until now, the police have said all weapons and explosives used by dissident republicans were previously controlled by the Provisional IRA, and not the result of new supplies.

The police said it was only through good fortune that police officers or civilians were not seriously injured or killed.

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