Real IRA blamed for attack on RUC base.
Just hours after the men of the 1st Battalion The Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire pulled out, terrorists attempted to fire a mortar at the RUC base at Rosslea, Co Fermanagh.
It exploded inside the back of an abandoned car which was used to try to launch the device.
Nobody was hurt, but it was the fourth failed attack on security installations in the province in two months, confirming growing fears that dissidents opposed to the Good Friday Agreement are beginning to develop a campaign to murder police and soldiers.
The so-called Real IRA - the organisation which bombed Omagh, killing 29 people in August l998 and which is supposed to be on ceasefire - has been involved in all four, according to security sources.
One source said last night: "Sooner or later, somebody is going to get killed."
Dissident bombers have attacked military bases in Londonderry and nearby Ballykelly, and were foiled as they prepared to open fire on security forces in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.
Four men were also charged after police intercepted a car carrying 500lb of explosives near Belfast.
Police had been expecting some sort of attack in the immediate aftermath of the Queen's emotional presentation of the George Cross to the RUC.
The incident at Rosslea - where a number of families had to be evacuated from their homes - confirmed intelligence reports of the build-up in Real IRA activity.
The security source said: "It was a cowardly attack, carried out with callous disregard for women and children. Sooner or later, these terrorists will succeed and somebody is going to die.
"They are putting the whole peace process under threat."
But the scaling down of the military in Northern Ireland has not halted.
The withdrawal of the latest soldiers means that troop levels have fallen below 14,000 for the first time since l970.
The battalion had been based in Belfast for five months. Despite its relocation to Chester, the men will remain under the control of the Army General Officer Command Northern Ireland as a reserve battalion, to be returned at short notice should the security situation deteriorate.
The unit's departure means that, for the first time since the start of the troubles in 1969, there are no roulement (short stay) battalions based in Belfast, compared to 1972 when there were 15 and army numbers in Northern Ireland peaked at 32,000.