Officers said on Sunday that the arrests were made in relation to Saturday’s car bomb in Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, adding that their main line of inquiry was that the New IRA militant group was responsible for the attack which had no casualties.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton sought to downgrade the significance of the attack, saying the public should be sure that the Irish nationalist group was not planning to escalate its attacks in the region.
The New IRA, or The Real Irish Republican Army, is one of the main groups opposed to Britain’s 1998 peace treaty in Ireland which came after three decades of bloody battles on the streets of the region. The group has carried out sporadic attacks in recent years as it seeks to unite Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland which is now an independent country, Presstv reported.
The bombing came amid renewed concerns about the Irish issue as Britain is struggling to secure a comprehensive agreement with the European Union (EU) on its withdrawal from the bloc.
EU member Ireland has indicated that the only way to avoid a return of hard border between the country and Northern Ireland after Brexit would be for London to accept the so-called backstop clause in Prime Minister Theresa May's ill-fated Brexit agreement.
Lawmakers in the British parliament rejected the EU divorce deal earlier this week by a large majority as many of them believed the backstop would entrap Britain in EU’s customs union if it is implemented after a two-year transition period post-Brexit and in the absence of a trade deal between Britain and the bloc.
Many believe EU’s insistence on the backstop would finally cause Britain to leave the bloc on March 29 in a disorderly manner, opening up the highly-feared possibility of re-imposing checks and controls between the two Irelands after Brexit.