IRA operations have centred on bombings and shootings aimed at
the security forces and British troops in Northern Ireland, and
have included attacks on civilian targets, such as shopping centres,
railway stations, and motorway bridges, and specific assassination
targets, such as Members of Parliament. The most notable of
these assassinations was that of Louis Mountbatten, who was killed
along with three others when his boat was blown up by an IRA bomb
at Mullaghmore, Country Sligo, Republic of Ireland, on August 27,
Although many of the bombs used have been small enough to be planted
manually, the car bomb became a preferred weapon in the 1970s, reaching
a peak of destruction in July 1974 when more than 20 car bombs exploded
in one day in Belfast. From 1974 the bombing campaign was extended
to mainland Britain and included a series of attacks in pubs, railway
stations, shops (such as Harrods in London), and shopping centres.
Coded warnings to newspapers and other organisations were sometimes
Massive economic disruption was wrought in 1992 and 1993, when
several vast lorry bombs were detonated in London. One of these
destroyed the Baltic Exchange in the City of London on April 10,
1992, killing three people. The IRA is regarded as the world's most
experienced bombing organisation; it has used bombs ranging from
small handheld incendiary devices to lorry bombs weighing hundreds
of pounds, such as the 230 kg (500 lb) bomb exploded at Canary Wharf.
Nitrobenzene and fertiliser are used in large bombs designed to
blow up buildings or in smaller devices designed to be thrown at
the Northern Ireland security forces. Home-made weapons have included
the nail bomb and the "drogue" bomb, an anti-vehicle grenade
consisting of about 230 g (506 lb) of explosive packed into a tin
attached to a throwing handle.
Home-made explosives are made of fertiliser and diesel-oil mix.
The largest of these weapons was the vast bomb, containing 907 kg
(1 ton) of fertiliser explosives, which was detonated on April 24,1993,
at Bishopsgate in London. One person was killed and 30 injured;
damage to buildings amounted to £600 million.