March 12, 2016 / 1:13 PM / 2 years ago

Man charged with Northern Irish car bombing as security stepped up

BELFAST (Reuters) - A 45-year-old man was charged on Saturday with attempting to murder a Northern Irish prison officer who was seriously injured in a car bomb a week ago, which was claimed by militant nationalists police fear are set to step up attacks.

Police have said there is a “severe” threat to security forces as the centenary approaches later this month of the 1916 anti-British Easter Rising, the most dramatic chapter of Ireland’s independence struggle.

Amid a heavy police presence at Belfast Magistrates’ Court, Christopher Robinson from Belfast appeared to face the charges that also included possession of an improvised device with intent to endanger life.

He did not reply when asked if he understood the charges, and was remanded in custody for four weeks.

Several dozen supporters - ringed by a heavy force of armed police - stood in the public gallery during the brief hearing and applauded loudly when Robinson was led away.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a militant group opposed to the 1998 peace deal that largely ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland between Protestants, who want to remain under British rule, and Catholics favoring unification with Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has stepped up security across the province. On Friday, a senior officer said further attacks had been foiled since the prison officer was injured.

Editing by Padraic Halpin and Andrew Bolton

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