Two suspected Irish Republican Army dissidents have been charged with attempting to kill an off-duty police officer near the province's border with the Republic of Ireland last week, police said Tuesday.

The pair, 26 and 32, were among three suspects arrested after gunmen tried to ambush the officer in Garrison, a lakeside border village in the westernmost corner of Northern Ireland on Saturday.

The botched attack came the same day Irish Republican Army dissidents left a 400-pound car bomb outside police headquarters in Belfast. That homemade device caught on fire but didn't explode.

IRA die-hards opposed to the outlawed group's 1997 cease-fire are at their most dangerous in recent memory, according to an expert panel that monitors the province's myriad paramilitary groups. Northern Ireland has seen a surge of violence since March, when two British soldiers and a policeman were shot dead. There have also been several failed attempts to kill security-force members with bombs in vehicles and on roadsides.

The spike in dissident activity aims to undermine Northern Ireland's power-sharing government of British Protestants and Irish Catholics.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said late Tuesday that the two unnamed men have been charged with attempted murder and possessing firearms. The 26-year-old has also been charged with using his weapon in an attempt to avoid arrest. Both were due to appear in court Wednesday.

The third suspect has been released, as was a fourth person arrested in the Republic of Ireland.