More details have emerged about the suspicious package sent to the Armed Forces Recruitment Office on St Giles last Thursday. The device was a “crude but viable” anti-personnel weapon containing with black powder, according to counter terrorism analysis.
A spokesperson for the Oxford University Officers’ Training Corps (OUOTC) told Cherwell, “The devices in question represented crude but viable anti-personnel weapons, sent to recruitment offices at four locations around the country, including Oxford”.
“They were sent to recruitment offices in A5 jiffy bags, and contained black powder. The effect of ignition would not have been an explosion, but a fireball targeted at whoever opened the package”.
The news comes after Scotland Yard confirmed that a group believed to be the New IRA claimed responsibility for the devices sent to recruiting offices around the South of England on 12 and 13 February. The Irish News published a statement attributed to the New IRA reading, “The IRA claims responsibility for the explosive devices that were sent to British armed forces recruitment centres in England.
It concluded, “Attacks will continue when and where the IRA see fit.”
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said, “We are aware of the claim of responsibility for the devices that were sent to Army recruitment centres in England last week.
“The claim was received on Saturday February 15 by a Northern Irish media outlet using a recognised codeword. The claim was allegedly made on behalf of the ‘IRA’”.
The OUOTC spokesperson clarified, “The packages aroused suspicion from the outset as they had Republic of Ireland postmarks, meaning detection was likely. The Army’s alert status is currently at ‘substantial’, meaning we are at a heightened alert, in anticipation of any further threats”.
The Official IRA’s armed stockpile was decommissioned in 2010, but a number of splinter groups have persisted with dissident activities. It is understood that the current New IRA was formed after the merger of two such groups in 2012.
The OUOTC spokesperson said, “All staff at Falklands House [where the Oxford University Officer Training Corps, Air Squadron and Royal Naval Unit conduct training] are aware of the relevant evacuation procedures should a similar package or device be discovered on site”.
Scotland Yard urged the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity or behaviour to their Anti-Terrorist Hotline.