British soldiers training in rural County Derry were the subject of a bomb alert on Wednesday after a local charity was contacted by an unknown individual to make the threat. The threat was taken very seriously by authorities as it included a codeword that confirmed that whomever made the call had a Republican background. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) responded with an air and ground search of the Drumsurn and Limavady areas but authorities have not confirmed whether they located an explosive device or not.
Up to 5,000 British soldiers are based at the Magilligan and Ballykinler bases in nearby County Down. In the last year the relationship between the British Army and the Republicans has been strained by several incidents. Earlier this year British troops were seen apparently patrolling the mostly Republican Drumsurn area angering the local community while last month a phonecall claiming to be from the IRA claimed responsibility for placing a bomb under a van being driven by an off-duty British soldier in north Belfast. The bomb was discovered after it broke loose from the vehicle. The “IRA” claimed they were targeting the soldier because he was in a relationship with a local woman and had made several attempts to kill him because of it.
With the arrest of a former British paratrooper by police investigating the events of Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in January 1972 tensions in Northern Ireland are at an all-time high since the ceasefire. The 66-year old former soldier, who has now been released on bail, is being questioned over the deaths of William Nash, Michael McDaid and John Young. He was arrested in County Antrim on Tuesday morning and held in Belfast.