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New enemy

New enemy

The car bombing that shook central Londonderry in Northern Ireland has all the symptoms of a terror attack. That an unknown outfit called the "New IRA" has taken credit for the carnage bears ample testimony to that. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was disbanded years ago and is now history. The Police Service of Northern Ireland has been able to arrest two suspects but investigations are on at a frenetic pace. And, so they must, because there simply cannot be any question of returning to those days when terror had cloaked the beautiful region with pathos and bloodshed. "Now we're just dealing with an extensive crime scene," police has said. John Boyle, the mayor of Derry/Londonderry stated he was "absolutely appalled by this terrible act of violence right in the heart of our city. I utterly condemn this attack which could easily have resulted in a loss of life or injury. The perpetrators do not speak for the people of Derry and Strabane! We have lived through this before." An eyewitness recalled, "Everyone in the neighbourhood came out into the street. Then I saw the car in flames and I said, 'Oh my God!' It's been a long time since a bomb went out in Derry. It was a great shock." Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney condemned the car bombing, tweeting, "There is no place and no justification possible for such acts of terror, which seek to drag Northern Ireland back to violence and conflict." The bombing raised fears that sectarian violence might be revived in Northern Ireland, which has been split over the question of whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or become part of Ireland. More than 3,500 people died in the decades-long conflict known as "the Troubles."The Good Friday, or Belfast, Agreement of 1998 was a turning point for the region ending years of bloodletting. In recent years, the two main political parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein (the political wing of IRA) had worked together in a power-sharing executive, but it collapsed in 2017 and despite extensive talks has yet to be restored. Even the name of the city has been disputed, with nationalists, who are in favour of a united Ireland – calling it Derry and unionists, who want to remain part of the United Kingdom – calling it Londonderry. Understandably, Sinn Fein MP Elisha McCallion posted on the party website, "This incident has shocked the local community. In particular, there are many elderly residents who live in the area who have been alarmed by this incident." Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster used her official Twitter page to thank emergency services for their quick action "which helped ensure there have been no fatalities or injuries."

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