A Northern Ireland police officer is in critical condition after a bomb blamed on Republican militants exploded under his car.

The officer, a Catholic named Peadar Heffron), was driving to work in Randalstown, in County Antrium northwest of Belfast, when the bomb went off. 

It happened a short distance from where two Northern Ireland soldiers were killed last March.  Those killings, along with the death of a police officer, were the first in more than a decade and marked a low point in Northern Ireland since 1998, the year of the Good Friday peace accord.

Over the past year, attacks aimed at undermining the 2007 power-sharing agreement between the province's Catholics and Protestants have increased.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.