An expert panel says Irish Republican Army dissidents are posing their greatest security threat in Northern Ireland since the province's peace accord 11 years ago — and are receiving help from a handful of IRA veterans in plotting gun and bomb attacks.

Wednesday's findings from the Independent Monitoring Commission say dissidents backed by a "small number" of mainstream IRA members are responsible for a surge in violence since March. The commission reports regularly on the underground activities of Northern Ireland's myriad paramilitary groups.

Incidents include the fatal shootings of two British soldiers and a policeman, several failed attempts to kill security-force members with bombs, and wounding 20 people in a campaign to deter civilian cooperation with security forces.