Northern Irish police were pelted with blast and petrol bombs on Monday, injuring six, and police announced they would retain a 225-person reserve unit that had been due to be disbanded.
The attack was the latest on security forces since police and justice powers were transferred to the British province from London in April. A 1998 peace agreement largely ended three decades of violence between predominantly Catholic groups who want a united Ireland and mainly Protestant unionists who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. But militant splinter groups recently have stepped up attacks.
The officers sustained minor injuries in the incident in Lurgan in county Armagh, which came after dissident republicans planted a suspected bomb on the Belfast to Dublin railway. Several families were evacuated from their homes.
Police said the device was used to lure officers to the area and once they arrived blast bombs, petrol bombs and other missiles rained down on them.
Cross-border train services between Northern Ireland and Ireland were halted for several hours before the device was declared a hoax by army bomb disposal experts.
Analysts have warned that republican dissidents remain active, and police have said the risk of attack, chiefly on security forces, is severe.
Northern Ireland police have been beefing up their street presence to tackle mounting attacks by republican splinter groups opposed to the peace process.
On Monday, Chief Constable Matt Baggott agreed to postpone the final disbandment of the Full Time Reserve, whose last group was due to be dissolved under policing reforms set in motion following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it would retain 225 Full Time Reserve officers, who were due to start pre-disbandment training in June, until the end of March 2011.
"This move will provide additional support to the increased operational work to disrupt the activities of criminal terrorists," a PSNI spokesman said.
Most of the main Northern Irish paramilitary groups have surrendered their weapons but republican dissidents such as the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA remain active. They killed two British soldiers and a policeman last year and have carried out several car bomb attacks since then.
ReutersLast Mod: 17 Mayıs 2010, 23:05