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Army makes safe 160lb beer-keg bomb in Keady

By Emily Moulton

A bomb planted by dissident republicans as part of a plot to kill or seriously injure police officers lay hidden in a country laneway for three days, placing the members of public at serious risk, a senior officer has said.

Chief Inspector Ken Mawhinney last night confirmed the “substantial” device — which was found in a hedge along the Castleblaney Road in Keady on Tuesday — was viable and was planted as part of an ambush.

It is understood the bomb contained around 160lb of explosives.

Army Technical Officers yesterday dismantled the bomb and six families who were evacuated from their homes were allowed to return.

The discovery of the device — a beer keg with wires attached — on Tuesday morning prompted a lock-down of the surrounding area. Police cordoned off a five-mile stretch of the road causing disruption to the entire area.

It is the second time in recent months that the people of the south Armagh community have had their lives disrupted as a result of dissident activity. In February a van fitted with a mortar bomb was abandoned outside Keady police station prompting a shut down of the immediate area.

Last night Chief Inspector Mawhinney said police believe the device had been in place since Saturday evening and could have claimed the lives of people passing the scene.

“Let me be clear from the outset and absolutely condemn this incident,” he said.

“This device was designed for one thing and one thing only — to kill or cause serious injury to police officers. The people responsible for planting this device and leaving it on this public road exposed to members of the local community for almost 48 hours showed absolutely no regard for human life. They do not care who they hurt and simply want to drag people back to the dark days of the past.

“The police service, like the vast majority of the community, is determined not to let that happen.

“These criminals have no role to play in this community and have absolutely no support from the ordinary decent people living here in Northern Ireland.”

Chief Inspector Mawhinney would not reveal the size of the device but said it was “substantial”.

He also said police believe a fire in Keady which broke out just after midnight on Sunday was an attempt to lure officers into an ambush.

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