Dissident republican group warns PSNI families are targets

A dissident republican group has warned that relatives of Northern Ireland police officers are considered targets.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) informed its staff of the new threat made by Arm na Poblachta (ANP) in a statement to The Irish News.

It said it was taken seriously and in an internal message advised staff to take "reasonable" security steps.

ANP is a small group that was behind an attempted bomb attack outside a police station in Londonderry last November.

The group emerged in 2017 but since then it has been less active than other dissident republican groups the New IRA and the Continuity IRA.

On Sunday ANP claimed to have left a device under an officer's near the city.

It sparked a security alert in the Lettershandoney area but nothing was found.

'Withdraw threat and disband'

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI), which represents rank and file officers, described the threat as deplorable and said it was issued by thugs.

"Threatening police officers and their families is despicable," said the federation chairman Liam Kelly.

"Officers work on behalf of everybody without fear or favour.

"Their families make big sacrifices so that officers can continue to safeguard communities and counter the reckless and profit-inspired gangsters who deliver misery."

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said no-one should be threatened due to the career they choose to pursue.

"I know the whole community will stand united against those who would seek to drag us back," he said.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said ANP should "withdraw these disgraceful threats" and disband.

"There is no place for these groups in our communities," he said.

The PSNI has established a command group to examine a recent surge in dissident activity.

Last month the New IRA shot and critically wounded Det Ch Insp John Caldwell while he was off-duty in Omagh.

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