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Prison officer injured in Belfast bomb attack dies in hospital

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 4: PSNI forensic officers inspect the damaged van following a suspected car bomb attack on a prison officer at Hillsborough Drive on March 4, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The 52 year old man, a serving prison officer who was driving the van has been taken to hospital. The attack is believed to have been by a dissident terrorist group. The Northern Ireland First and Deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness have condemed the attack. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Adrian Ismay died of a suspected heart attack this morning (Photo: Getty Images)

A PRISON officer injured following a dissident republican bomb attack in east Belfast 11 days ago has died.

Adrian Ismay, 52, of Hillsborough Drive, was seriously hurt after a device partially detonated under his van on the morning of Friday, March 4.

He was released from hospital last week, but was admitted again this morning, where he died of a suspected heart attack.

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PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Richard Campbell said: “Adrian was the father of three grown up daughters and had over 28 years service with the Prison Service. Our deepest sympathy is with Adrian’s family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.”

He confirmed that one man had been charged with attempted murder and causing an explosion with intent to endanger life.

He added that the investigation is continuing, and that at this stage, the PSNI are trying to establish the exact cause of Mr Ismay’s death.

Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, said that he was deeply saddened to learn of Mr Ismay’s death.

“I extend my sincere condolences to Adrian’s family, friends and colleagues at this dreadful time,” he said.

“This was a callous and cowardly attack on the entire community. We must work together to reject those who would wish to return Northern Ireland to the days when these heinous attacks were commonplace.

“Their futile agenda will not succeed. We best honour Adrian’s memory by redoubling our efforts to build a truly peaceful future for the people of Northern Ireland.”

Following the attack almost two weeks ago, a senior PSNI officer warned that dissident republicans were targeting members of the security forces in the run up to the centenary of the Easter Rising.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: “The threat is severe in Northern Ireland. That means an attack is highly likely. We are very worried by the current threat picture.

“Easter is very significant time in calendar, it’s the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, so we’re working hard with the people organising many events across Northern Ireland.”

Mr Ismay’s injures were initially thought to be serious but not life threatening. It was understood he worked at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders’ Centre in Belfast.

At the time of the explosion a number of residents in Hillsborough Drive had to be moved from their homes and an emergency evacuation centre was set up at the Salvation Army on the Cregagh Road.

Following the bombing, the BBC reported that a dissident republican group – widely referred to as the new IRA – had claimed to have carried out the attack.

In a statement the group said that Mr Ismay was targeted for training officers at Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn in Co. Antrim.

It’s thought that a post-mortem examination will be carried out on Wednesday.

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Nemesha Balasundaram
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Nemesha Balasundaram is a Reporter with The Irish Post. Follow her on Twitter @nemeshaB

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