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Dissident republicans 'intent' on more killing

The terror threat level in Northern Ireland has been upgraded to "the upper end of severe," Police Service of Northern Ireland has said today.

A bomb disposal robot in Belfast's Woodstock Road area, where the car bomb exploded Credit: pool

The warning follows a car bomb attack in the east of the city this morning in which a prison officer was injured. PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said that the attack had "set out to kill."

He expressed fear that the attack was part of an upsurge in dissident activity ahead of the forthcoming Easter Rising anniversary and that dissident republicans are intent on killing security force members to mark the 100th anniversary of the republican rebellion against British rule on the streets of Dublin.

The 52-year-old long-serving prison officer, who is married with children, required surgery after an explosive device detonated under the van he was driving on Friday morning. His condition has been described at stable.

The terror threat level in Northern Ireland has been categorised as "severe" for a number of years.

Belfast car bombers 'set out to kill'

The PSNI has released a video appealing for people to come forward with information relating to this morning's car bomb attack in Belfast, telling the public that those who planted the device under a prison officer's van had "set out to kill".

The unnamed 52-year-old victim of the attack is currently undergoing treatment in hospital after the bomb exploded as he drove to work at around 7:10am in the Woodstock Road area.

"'There is a severe threat in Northern Ireland," Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin says in the video. "That means an attack is very likely and we're very worried about the threat picture."

He acknowledged the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising and that some dissident republicans may want to mark the centenary "in an entirely more sinister way."

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McGuinness condemns 'despicable and futile' attack

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has tweeted his condemnation of this morning's incident in east Belfast.

A 52-year-old prison officer was on his way to work when after an explosive device detonated under the van he was driving in the Woodstock Road area.

He is in a stable condition in hospital.

Shop worker describes 'massive bang' on Belfast road

Woodstock Road in Belfast Credit: PA

A shop worker waiting to gain permission to open up in the Woodstock Road area of Belfast said he had heard a "massive" bang at about 7.20am.

"I didn't know what it was but it was huge," said the man who declined to be named.

A large cordon has been put up around the scene with several streets closed off. Part of a twisted bumper can be seen lying at the side of the road.

A prison officer injured in the explosion is in hospital. It is understood the man's injuries are not considered life threatening.

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Murder investigation launched after Belfast shooting

A man has died after being shot in east Belfast, police have confirmed.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland launched a murder investigation after the victim died in hospital.

The shooting happened in the Comber Court area of Short Strand shortly before 9pm.

Sinn Féin councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile condemned the killing, saying: "There can be no place for actions like this in our society. The community here rejects any attempt by any armed group to turn the clock back to the past."

Police officer injured in Belfast at parade flashpoint

A police officer is dragged away after being struck by an object thrown by Loyalist protesters at the Ardoyne Roundabout, Belfast. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A police officer has been struck and injured by a piece of masonry thrown by loyalists during an Orange Order parade in Belfast.

Police have deployed water cannon on the protesters.

Sporadic violence broke out in the north of the city, after police prevented loyalists marching from the unionist Woodvale area toward the nationalist Ardoyne.

On the other side of the police lines, a girl believed to be aged around 16 was reportedly struck by a car as republicans gathered at a row of shops on the edge of the Ardoyne. Police said the driver of the vehicle has been arrested.

The Orange Order condemned the violence and appealed for calm. "Those involved in violence should desist," said a spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

"It is not only counter-productive but also plain wrong. Such actions are only strengthening the hand of those who wish to further curtail our parades. We call on anyone engaged in illegal behaviour to stop immediately."

The spokesman said a bus transporting Orangemen was stoned as it passed through Greysteel, Co Londonderry, earlier this evening. He said it was understood no-one was seriously injured in that incident.

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