THE IRA has allegedly claimed responsibility for the suspected explosive devices sent to the Oxford Armed Forces recruitment office and other military careers bases last week.

The Metropolitan Police has today said the claim – allegedly made on behalf of the “IRA” – was received on Saturday by a Northen Irish media outlet.

A recognised codeword was used, the police said. St Giles was shut off for more than two hours on Thursday when the suspicious package was sent to the recruitment office.

Four suspected explosive devices were discovered at Army careers offices in Oxford, Brighton, Canterbury and the Queensmere shopping centre in Slough last Thursday.

This followed packets sent to Aldershot, Hampshire, on Wednesday and another two on Tuesday to an armed forces careers office in Reading, Berkshire, and the Army and RAF careers office in Chatham, Kent.

One of the packages bore a Republic of Ireland postmark and Downing Street said the small but potentially viable devices bore "the hallmarks of Northern Ireland-related terrorism".

Scotland Yard said: " We are aware of the claim of responsibility for the devices that were sent to Army recruitment centres in England last week.

"The claim was received on Saturday February 15 by a Northern Irish media outlet using a recognised codeword. The claim was allegedly made on behalf of the 'IRA'.

"The public is urged to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the Anti-Terrorist Hotline, 0800 789 321."

The IRA disbanded in the years after it declared an end to its armed campaign in 2005, but a group calling itself the New IRA formed just before the London Olympics in 2012 and was linked to letter bombs sent last autumn.

The Irish News reported that the "IRA" had given a statement which said: "The IRA claims responsibility for the explosive devices that were sent to British armed forces recruitment centres in England. Attacks will continue when and where the IRA see fit."

  • Listen to an eye witness account about how last week's drama unfolded:

A security incident at the Royal Navy's warfare school has been found to be a false alarm after a package delivered to the base was found not to be suspicious.

Hampshire Police said: " Officers from Hampshire Constabulary attended HMS Collingwood in Fareham, this morning.

"The package has now been examined and it is not deemed suspicious."