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Murdered - 25-year-old Catholic rookie cop Ronan Kerr

Five dissident Republicans arrested as Ronan Kerr murder probe intensifies

\"Murdered

Murdered - 25-year-old Catholic rookie cop Ronan Kerr

Police in Northern Ireland have arrested five suspects in connection with the murder of Catholic officer Ronan Kerr last April.

The arrests were made overnight as police step up their investigations into the death of the 25-year-old on his first full day of service.

Kerr was blown up by a bomb placed under his car as he prepared to travel from his home in Omagh to his new station at Enniskillen on April 2nd.

The murder was slammed by politicians on both sides of the political divide with dissident Republicans blamed for the atrocity.

At his funeral, members of the GAA, including Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, helped to carry Kerr’s coffin along with his colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The arrests are the latest stage of an investigation that has involved over 200 officers with searches taking place in Ulster, the Republic and Scotland.

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The five men were taken into custody late on Monday night and are believed to be members of a dissident Republican unit which includes former Provisional IRA members who are aligned with, but operate independently from, the Real IRA.

The men, arrested under the North’s Terrorism Act, range in age from 22 to 46 and are being questioned inside the force's serious crimes suite at Antrim police station.

The arrests were made during police searches in Coalisland in Co Tyrone, and in Bellaghy, Toomebridge and Ballyronan in Co Derry.

A 22-year-old man was arrested in Coalisland. Two men, aged 27 and 46, were arrested in Toome. A 37-year-old was arrested man in Bellaghy and the man arrested in Ballyronan is aged 33.

A police spokesman said clothing, mobile phones, computers and cars had been seized for forensic analysis.

Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray said: “Our determination to pursue every possible line of inquiry remains undiminished.

“The investigation is progressing and police have been encouraged by the support and assistance which has been forthcoming from across the community.

“Today’s activities are the latest stage in the ongoing investigation into Ronan’s murder and related incidents.

“During this search stage, we would ask for people’s continued patience and co-operation as we work to complete our enquiries to maximum effect, as expeditiously as possible and with the minimum amount of disruption to community life.”

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