The British secret service MI5 has raised the terror alert level for Northern Ireland. Against the background of increased activity by violent Irish Republican activists, this was classified as "severe" on Tuesday. This is the second highest of a total of five warning levels. For the past year, the terror alert had been a notch below.
UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said there had been an increase in activity related to terrorism in Northern Ireland in recent months. He called on people to remain vigilant without being alarmed.
Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland laid down arms following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. More than 3,000 people were killed during the previous three decades of violence in Northern Ireland involving Irish Republican and British loyalist paramilitaries and British security forces.
The Good Friday Agreement largely ended the conflict: but IRA factions continue to carry out sporadic attacks. In February, a senior Northern Ireland police officer was gunned down by two hooded men. A splinter group of the IRA, which describes itself as the "New IRA", claimed responsibility for the crime.
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