POLICE investigating the murder of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr last night arrested a man in his thirties in connection with his death.
The man was arrested in Omagh, Co Tyrone where the suspected dissident republican car bombing took place on Saturday.
PSNI detectives have also been granted an extra five days to question two other men in connection with the murder; a 26-year-old from the Dungannon area arrested in Scotland on Tuesday following an arms find in Coalisland and a 40-year-old arrested outside Omagh on Thursday.
Meanwhile, PSNI sources, have confirmed that dissidents are continuing to target police officers notwithstanding the public anger and revulsion at the murder.
In a briefing yesterday they said that murder plots by dissidents were being uncovered at a rate of one a fortnight. “There is absolutely no indication the community outrage has had any impact on the mindset of the dissidents,” said one PSNI source.
The sources also said security would be stepped up during the Assembly election campaign and to try to guard against a high-profile attack in Northern Ireland to coincide with Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the Republic next month.
The PSNI is also planning a series of cold case reviews to try to increase the pressure on dissidents. Using improved forensic techniques they will examine crimes in which present-day dissidents may have been involved, the sources said. They added much of the dissident arsenal originated from the former Yugoslavia and that illegal arms continue to come into Northern Ireland in “dribs and drabs”.
Meanwhile, as the PSNI seeks to increase the pressure on dissidents, the dissidents are suspected of responding with a series of bomb alerts to try and disrupt and distract the police from their investigative work.
There were several hoax bomb alerts this week in areas such as Belfast, Lurgan and Toome in Co Antrim. The Belfast to Dublin road near Newry was closed yesterday because of an alert triggered by an abandoned van. It also forced the closure of the Dublin-Belfast railway line at Newry.
Chief Supt Alasdair Robinson indicated the disruption was likely to be lengthy as the security operation to check against a possible planted bomb was “likely to be long and complex”.
“Once again our community has been disrupted and the lives of residents put at risk by an element intent on causing as much disruption as they can,” he said. “Even where an alert is an elaborate hoax, the disruption affects the whole community at both a personal and commercial level.
“They give no regard for who may be affected by their actions and as a community we should be looking to blame this disruption on the person or persons who made the calls claiming devices had been left,” he said.