"A group of former Provisional IRA bombmakers are believed to have joined dissident republicans to play a key part in the dramatic rise in the number of attacks in Northern Ireland, according to security and military sources.
"The new threat comes as the head of MI5 revealed that his service now has to deal with "more life-threatening investigations" in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK. The increased violence has meant that the number of agents in the province needed to be boosted by a third, with tightly stretched resources moved from operations against Islamist terrorists.
"The escalation of violence in Ulster comes at a particularly difficult time for the security and intelligence services. There has been no respite in the activities of al-Qa'ida and its associates. Meanwhile, the agencies face economic constraints along with other government departments."