Police: ‘IRA’ claims blame for London, Glasgow explosives

A group calling itself the IRA has claimed responsibility for a series of improvised explosive devices that were sent to locations in London and Glasgow last week, the Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland said Tuesday.

The forces said in a statement that they are “aware of the claim of responsibility for the devices that were received at three buildings” in the UK capital and at the University of Glasgow on March 5 and 6. “The claim was allegedly made on behalf of the ‘IRA,'” they added.

The claim of responsibility was received by the Northern Irish newspaper The Irish News on Monday and a recognized codeword was used, said the statement.

As the devices “bore similarities” to past packages “linked to dissident groups associated with Northern-Ireland related terrorism,” the police said that “officers were already looking at this as a line of enquiry.”

The group claims to have sent five devices, of which four have currently been recovered by police.

Authorities have already provided “extensive advice” to relevant businesses and organizations to be vigilant for and report suspicious packages, the statement added. The advice was previously provided to armed forces personnel.

On March 5, three devices were sent to major London transport hubs — Waterloo train station, and offices at Heathrow and City airports — in what police said appeared to be part of a “linked series.”

All the devices were judged to be viable, and the package sent to Heathrow Airport burst into flames after being opened by staff. Nobody was injured by the devices and no arrests have currently be made.

The packages were posted with Irish stamps and return addresses located in Dublin, prompting Irish police to join the investigation. The packages were all A4-sized white postal bags containing yellow Jiffy bags, which were capable of igniting when opened.

Police Scotland confirmed that a controlled explosion was carried out on the package found at the University of Glasgow on March 6 as a precautionary measure, after numerous surrounding buildings were evacuated.

The Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command unit launched an investigation into the devices and reported that they are maintaining an “open mind” as inquiries continue.

“The investigations into these devices continue and relevant inquiries are being made in relation to the claim that has been made,” police said.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, paid tribute to the police for their response. “I would like the thank first responders for their swift actions to keep Londoners safe,” he said.