Police have blown up a suspicious parcel sent to a Scottish university as the British bombing campaign widens and investigators reportedly turn their attention to Irish terror groups.
Scottish police said they had carried out a controlled explosion on a package sent to the University of Glasgow and were now working with police in London as they try to find out who sent the parcel bombs to two airports and London’s busiest train station on Tuesday.
White postal bags containing improvised explosive devices were sent to London’s Heathrow and City Airport, and Waterloo station. One device caught fire when opened but they did not injure anyone and services continued at all three hubs.
While no group is yet to claim responsibility for the devices, UK media have quoted police and government sources as saying the devices bore the hallmarks of packages sent by the New IRA.
Tensions have been rising in Northern Ireland in recent months over continuing uncertainty over the future of the border after Brexit.
The UK investigation is being assisted by Irish police, who were quoted by the Irish Mirror as identifying the radical New IRA as prime suspect in the campaign.
“It is most likely to be a New IRA dissident republican-orientated attack but it could also be Islamic – there is nothing in the packages that could lead anyone to believe in specifics,” the Mirror quoted a police source as saying.
“There will now be a full investigation here in Ireland as well as in the UK to determine who it came from.”
British analysts have also speculated the parcel bombs could be related to Brexit and the uncertain future of the Irish border after the EU split.
Elsewhere on Thursday, police to the east of London said they had sent for the bomb squad after a suspicious package was found at the University of Essex, prompting them to evacuate some buildings and put a cordon in place. They later said the package posed no risk.
A suspicious parcel outside an entrance to parliament in London also caused a scare until police deemed it harmless.
“Police Scotland is liaising with the Metropolitan Police in relation to their investigation into packages received in London yesterday,” Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson said.
Dean Haydon, Britain’s senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, told reporters earlier on Wednesday that the London devices were small and not intended to kill but would have required some specialist knowledge to build.
Photo of one of the suspect devices – this one sent to Heathrow. It caught fire: pic.twitter.com/keObgokRVH
— Alistair Bunkall (@AliBunkallSKY) March 5, 2019
“At the moment there is nothing to indicate motivation, sender, ideology,” Mr Haydon said. “So I cannot confirm that it is linked to any Northern Ireland-related terrorist groups.”
Mr Haydon said police could not rule out there being further devices, and warnings had been given to other transport hubs and mail handling companies.