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March 31, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Suspected IRA dissidents and their supporters hijacked cars in working-class Catholic areas of Northern Ireland in a coordinated effort to block roads and threaten police stations, police said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it received a wave of reports of vehicles being hijacked by masked gunmen in several parts of Belfast and in the Kilwilkie district of Lurgan, a power base for Irish Republican Army dissidents southwest of Belfast.

Some vehicles were set on fire to disrupt traffic at rush hour, while others were abandoned near four Belfast police stations and on a major motorway near Lurgan.

Monday's upheaval came in a month in which IRA dissidents killed two soldiers outside an army base and a policeman on duty -- the first killings of British security forces since 1998, the year of Northern Ireland's peace accord.

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