Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bomb Scares and Hijacking

A child rides his bike past a burning lorry in Belfast, Northern Ireland (AFP)

Oh no, here we go again! Is it back to 1969? Goes to show how easily one spark can set everything off. The scary thing is that one of the bomb scares was on Tenement Street which is not too far from where I live. Mind you, a Protestant area not Catholic! Relentless is the word for these IRA dissidents. I honestly think they're trying to push the loyalist paramilitaries into action. If they keep it up, they may very well succeed.

It feels funny reading about Belfast from 5,386 miles away. The news leads you to believe that this is happening ALL over Belfast and the city is going down in flames. But the reality is...these are just isolated areas. Craig called his mom twice this week and she hasn't mentioned anything.

I showed Craig the headlines. He rolled his eyes and didn't bother to read the article because he knows it's the same damn story, like a broken record playing over and over again. I asked him if it made him feel homesick. He was like, "Are you having a laugh?". Then he proceeded to call the airline and postponed our return date a week and a half later. I would take that as a "No, I don't miss the shithole and would rather soak up the sun and the good life in California".

I guess if he's feeling really homesick and nostalgic in these 4 weeks, we could always make a trip out to Oakland.

Suspected IRA dissidents and their supporters hijacked cars Monday in working-class Catholic areas of Northern Ireland in a coordinated effort to block roads and threaten police stations, police said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it was receiving a wave of reports of vehicles being hijacked by masked gunmen in several parts of Belfast and in the Kilwilkie district of Lurgan, a power base for Irish Republican Army dissidents southwest of Belfast.

Some vehicles were being set on fire in roads to disrupt traffic at rush hour, while others were abandoned near four Belfast police stations and on Northern Ireland's major motorway near Lurgan.

Police said they were treating all the abandoned vehicles as potential car bombs, although they cautioned this was unlikely. They urged motorists to avoid Kilwilkie and parts of Catholic west Belfast entirely.

Monday's upheaval came at the end of a month in which IRA dissidents shot to death two soldiers and a policeman — the first killings of British security forces since 1998, the year of Northern Ireland's peace accord.

Police said at least two cars were hijacked in Lurgan's Kilwilkie district, the power base of suspected IRA dissident Colin Duffy. Duffy, 41, was charged last week with murdering the two soldiers.

One of the hijacked cars was abandoned on the M1 motorway, which connects Belfast to Dublin, 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the south. Authorities shut part of the motorway as a precaution.

One abandoned vehicle — which police said did not contain a bomb — was left near the Stormont Parliamentary Building, the center of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government between the British Protestant majority and Irish Catholic minority.

The coalition's Protestant leader, First Minister Peter Robinson, said the rising dissident IRA threat would not spur Protestants to sever links with Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that represents most Catholics today.

"The criminal terrorists responsible for the series of bomb scares and hijackings are beneath contempt and have no support whatsoever in the community," Robinson said.

The hijackings and security alerts also coincided with a widespread breakdown of Belfast's traffic lights system. Police in a statement called that an "unfortunate coincidence."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It just shows you. I don't really watch the news with the child at home but this is the first I've heard about this. The husband even drives through Belfast every day for work and he didn't even mention it. Hopefully, if people don't even find the scares "gossip" worthy then they won't get a rise out of loyalists.