July 10, 2010 / 12:14 PM / in 10 years

Irish police arrest five in Northern Irish dissident probe

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish police arrested five men on Saturday as part of a probe into dissident Republican militants active in Northern Ireland.

Irish state broadcaster RTE said the men were arrested on suspicion of trying to move explosives over the border and that shots were said to have been fired at officers but there were no injuries.

A police spokesman said the men were arrested overnight in County Louth, just south of the border with Northern Ireland, and were now being held in Drogheda, Dundalk and Balbriggan police stations.

The spokesman did not give more details as the operation was still under way.

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 have stepped up attacks recently.

Northern Irish police have beefed up their street presence due to increased paramilitary attacks and they have also been getting assistance from police in the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland’s justice minister said in May dissident Republican militants posed a growing and severe threat, after police foiled what he said was a major bomb plot.

Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Myra MacDonald

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