British soldier charged with Northern Ireland-linked terror offences

Police forensic officers carry evidence from a house in Northern Ireland on Aug 24, 2016, in connection with the soldier's arrest.
Police forensic officers carry evidence from a house in Northern Ireland on Aug 24, 2016, in connection with the soldier's arrest.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - A British soldier has been charged with a range of terrorism offences linked to Northern Ireland, including bomb-making and keeping an arsenal of explosives and weapons, police said on Friday (Sept 2).

Ciaran Maxwell, 30, a Royal Marine, allegedly obtained chemicals and components for bombs between 2011 and 2016, as well as an image of a Northern Ireland police pass and items of police uniform.

He was also charged with "creating and maintaining hides in England and Northern Ireland to store explosive substances, explosive devices, components for explosive devices, ammunition, weapons," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Maxwell, who had been living in Exminster in south-west England, was arrested on Aug 24 by counter-terror police.

He was to appear in court later on Friday.

The 1998 Good Friday peace accords largely ended the three decades of violence in Northern Ireland, known as the Troubles, in which 3,500 people were killed.

However, the threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism within the province has been set at severe - the second-highest of five levels - since it was first established in 2010.

The level, determined by the MI5 domestic security service, means an attack is considered highly likely.

The threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in the rest of the United Kingdom was raised one level from moderate to substantial - the third-highest level - in May this year, meaning an attack is considered a strong possibility.