Northern Ireland

Belfast gun attack: 'New IRA' says it shot police officer

The shooting happened near a petrol station on the Crumlin Road Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The shooting happened at a petrol station on the Crumlin Road

A dissident republican group known as the 'new IRA' has said it carried out a shooting in north Belfast in which a police officer was wounded.

The gun attack happened at a petrol station on the Crumlin Road on Sunday evening.

The officer, who is in his 20s, was hit two or three times in the arm.

The republican group said the attack was a "targeted" attempt to kill two officers, reported The Irish News.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The Crumlin Road was closed for a time after the shooting

The paper said that the group had claimed the attack using a recognised codeword, saying that it was unconnected to the recent collapse of political institutions at Stormont but was rather a "continuation of activity".

The new IRA was formed in 2012 after a number of dissident republican organisations said they were unifying under one leadership.

It is believed to be the largest dissident republican organisation.

As many as 10 shots from an automatic weapon are believed to have been fired in Sunday night's attack.

The officer, who underwent emergency surgery, is in a stable condition in hospital.

Chief Constable George Hamilton described the attack as "completely reckless" and "crazy".

Number of attacks

Police arrested three men after the shooting - one, aged 36, on Sunday night and two, aged 30 and 39, on Monday

All three men have been released unconditionally.

The new IRA is believed to have been responsible for a number of attacks since its formation, including the murders of prison officers David Black and Adrian Ismay.

On Wednesday, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn came in for criticism after he mistakenly suggested the officer had died, and offered his condolences to the family.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds later described Mr Corbyn's gaffe as "one of the worst displays of crass ignorance that could be imagined".

It is understood Mr Corbyn has written a letter to the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to apologise for his error.

A spokesman for the Labour leader said: "He meant to say 'nearly died'", adding that Mr Corbyn "had not intended to cause offence".

During Prime Minister's Questions, PM Theresa May had sent thoughts to the officer, his friends and family.

"The PSNI does a superb job in keeping us safe and secure and they have our fullest support," said Mrs May.

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