Police held six over bombing campaign

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Police today arrested six suspects in connection with a series of bomb attacks believed to be the work of republican dissidents in the Real IRA.

Scotland Yard said officers arrested five men between the ages of 20 and 40 in north London just after 6am and another man was held in Liverpool.

Police said they were questioning the six about the string of terrorist blasts, and added that they were also searching other locations. None of the suspects was charged immediately.

"Today's arrests are the result of a lengthy investigation into dissident Irish republican terrorist groups," said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alan Fry, head of the Metropolitan Police anti–terrorism branch. "Those in custody are being questioned in connection with the current bombing campaign on the U.K. mainland."

Since June last year, at least six explosions in London have been linked with the IRA dissidents, including a rocket–propelled grenade attack on the headquarters of MI6, and a taxi bomb outside the BBC in west London.

The most recent explosion, 12 days ago in Birmingham, partially detonated in a busy area but caused no serious injuries.

Police said that device was similar to car bombs planted outside the BBC studios and in a shopping street in Ealing, west London earlier this year.

Bombs have also exploded at Hammersmith Bridge in London and at a postal sorting office in Hendon, north London.

Police have blamed the attacks on the Real IRA, which split from the IRA in protest over the 1997 ceasefire that led to the involvement of Sinn Fein in the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.