The RUC say they suspect that dissident Republican paramilitaries carried out the early morning bomb attack in County Down in which a police officer was seriously injured. Eddie McGrady, the SDLP MP for the area, said that the bombing was an attempt to further de-stabilise an already delicate political situation in the North.

The RUC officer injured in the bomb attack had a leg amputated. He also lost a finger and a thumb in the attack. The device had been hidden in a traffic cone and exploded as he moved it out of the way of a gate at Castlewellan RUC station at around 3.00am. A male colleague was treated for shock. The North's First Minister, David Trimble, said that police chiefs recently warned about increased activity among Real IRA members.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, described this morning's bomb attack as a cowardly and evil act, designed to bring about death and injury. Mr Cowen said that those behind the attack would not be allowed to succeed. His condemnation followed similar comments from politicians in the North.