(Adds details, historical context)
LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Seven suspicious packages sent to army recruitment offices in England contained "viable devices" bearing the hallmarks of "Northern Ireland terrorism", a spokeswoman from Prime Minister David Cameron's office said on Thursday.
The Irish Republican Army abandoned its armed struggle for an end to British control of Northern Ireland and unification with Ireland in 1998. But the government said last month that "terrorists" were continuing to plan attacks with lethal intent.
"Seven suspect packages have been identified as containing small, crude, but potentially viable devices bearing the hallmarks of Northern Ireland related terrorism," the spokeswoman said in a statement. "These have now been safely dealt with by the police and bomb disposal units."
Thursday's statement followed a meeting of the government's Cobra emergency committee which was called after counter-terrorism police said suspicious parcels had been found at three army recruitment centres across southern England.
Bomb disposal units were sent to Brighton, Oxford and Slough on Thursday to assess the packages and roads nearby were sealed off, the South East Counter Terrorism Unit said in a statement. Earlier this week, similar packages were found at army careers offices in Aldershot, Reading and Chatham.
More than 3,600 people died, including more than 1,000 members of the British security forces, during a sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland that began in the late 1960s. (Reporting by William James and Kylie Maclellan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)