Police investigating the attempted murder of a prison officer in Northern Ireland have warned that dissident republicans are intent on killing security force members to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin.
The 52-year-old long-serving prison officer, who is married with children, required surgery after an explosive device detonated under the van he was driving in Belfast on Friday morning. His condition has been described at stable.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin expressed fear that the attack was part of an upsurge in dissident activity ahead of the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the republican rebellion against British rule on the streets of Dublin.
Mr Martin said while the terror threat level in Northern Ireland has been categorised as "severe" for a number of years he was now describing it as "the upper end of severe".
"I believe there are people within dissident republican groupings who want to mark this centenary by killing police officers, prison officers and soldiers," he said.
"I am saying that publicly, I am saying it deliberately, and I am saying I need the help of the community. That is not inevitable, this does not need to happen, but we need the support of the community."
The 1916 uprising failed in its primary objective but it triggered a series of events that ultimately saw 26 counties of Ireland gain independence from Britain five years later.
The Rising has assumed great significance in republican ideology and it will be marked by a series of state events in Dublin on March 27.