A bomb disposal unit officer checks a van damaged in a car bomb attack Friday in Belfast.
Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
A bomb disposal unit officer checks a van damaged in a car bomb attack Friday in Belfast.

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A prison officer injured in a car bombing in Belfast, Northern Ireland, police say

Police official warns of "extremely high" threat ahead of 100th anniversary of an Irish uprising

Belfast, Northern Ireland CNN —  

A car bomb apparently targeting a prison officer exploded Friday in Belfast, sparking fresh worries of a resurgence of the deadly violence that scarred Northern Ireland for decades.

The prison officer, 52, suffered severe but not life-threatening injuries in the east Belfast explosion, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

A senior Northern Ireland police officer warned about a severe threat of further attacks after Friday’s bombing.

Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin expressed concern about an “extremely high” threat ahead of the upcoming 100th anniversary of an Irish uprising against British rule. Four events are being held to mark what’s known as the Easter Rising, the first on March 26.

Authorities are concerned that splinter groups from what was once the Irish Republican Army will target police, prison officers and soldiers, Martin said. Security forces have beefed up their presence ahead of the centenary.

In a conflict known as “The Troubles,” nearly 3,600 people died in late 20th-century violence between pro-British Protestants and Catholics who favored wresting Northern Ireland from British control and unifying it with Ireland.

Map: Belfast, Northern Ireland
CNN/Nokia Maps
Map: Belfast, Northern Ireland

The historic Good Friday agreement in 1998 led to power-sharing and a sharp drop in sectarian violence, yet the opposition to British rule never disappeared entirely.

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan was among those politicians who strongly criticized Friday’s bombing in the Northern Ireland capital, which he characterized as “callous and cowardly.”

“It must be utterly condemned,” Flanagan said. “Not only was it targeted on an individual public servant, it represented a futile attack on the entire community which is determined to achieve a peaceful and reconciled society in Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland’s dark past threatens its future

Journalist Peter Taggart reported from Belfast, and CNN’s Greg Botelho reported and wrote from Atlanta.