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Man Arrested Over 1996 Bombing of Manchester by Provisional IRA

An Irish Republican Army (IRA) sniper warning sign overlooking the Bogside area of Derry in Northern Ireland on April 20, 2019. (Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images)

Greater Manchester Police have arrested a man in connection with the bombing of the city centre in 1996, which was claimed at the time by the Provisional IRA.

He was arrested at Birmingham Airport on Thursday night on suspicion of terrorist offences.

On June 15, 1996, two men parked a lorry near Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre, before calling in a coded warning.

The city centre was in the midst of being evacuated when the 3,300-pound device went off and 200 people were injured by flying glass.

It was the largest bomb ever detonated by the IRA and the biggest explosion since the Second World War.

The man who was arrested is being interviewed by detectives from Counter Terrorism Policing for the North West.

Many People Left With ‘Life-Changing’ Injuries

Greater Manchester Police’s head of investigations, Detective Superintendent Andrew Meeks, said: “Although thankfully no one was killed during the 1996 Manchester bombing by the IRA, hundreds of people were left with injuries—many of which were life-changing—and many more across Greater Manchester and the North West were affected by what happened on that day.”

He added: “We have always been committed to holding those responsible for the attack to account and bringing them to justice and have been reinvestigating for several years, with a team of dedicated detectives re-examining the original case files and pursuing new lines of inquiry.”

Meeks said they knew the arrest would “bring back memories of that terrible day” for those who had been injured and he said they had tried to contact as many people as possible to warn them before the news became public.

The Manchester bombing occurred at a crucial point during what is known as The Troubles, a 30-year period during which more than 3,000 people were killed as the Provisional IRA sought to force a united Ireland by means of a terrorist campaign.

In August 1994, the IRA called a ceasefire and representatives of their political wing, Sinn Féin, sat down for talks with the British government in December of that year.

But the talks got bogged down and in February 1996 the IRA suddenly declared an end to the ceasefire and set off a bomb in London’s Canary Wharf, which killed two people and caused millions of pounds worth of damage.

After the Manchester bombing there was a lull of activity but in February 1997 an IRA sniper killed a British soldier at a barracks in County Armagh.

After Tony Blair’s Labour Party won a landslide election in May 1997 the IRA declared a second ceasefire and began the talks which would end with the Good Friday Agreement.

PA Media contributed to this report.