Dissidents have been blamed for leaving a mortar bomb that had the potential to cause death or serious injury in a Co Armagh village yesterday morning.
Police have also been criticised after they took almost four hours to cordon off Davis Street in Keady — near the village police station — where a van carrying a viable device was abandoned at 6.30am.
A police spokeswoman confirmed cordons were put in place at around 10am and Army Technical Officers removed and made safe a device found inside the van.
Residents described the dissident republican threat in the area as “disgusting”.
SDLP Armagh City and District mayor Thomas O'Hanlon condemned the dissident threat: He added: “This is a very busy road and one of the main cross boarder routes.”
A businesswoman said confusion reigned in the village. She added: “People want to know why the police didn't act sooner.
“The van was in the middle of the street with the doors flung open from 6.30am. We are all left wondering why the police didn't consider this a priority during the rush hour, when the village was packed with commuters.”
It is understood police were brought in from Armagh city because Keady police station operates on a limited opening basis. The station is staffed by the neighbourhood policing team but it has not been used since Christmas due to burst pipes and disrepair.
Area Commander Chief Inspector Ken Mawhinney said: “I am aware of some concerns within the community about our response to this incident but I would like to reassure the people of Keady that an investigation was initiated and enquiries undertaken as soon as we received the initial report of this van.
“We have to consider the safety, not only of the community, but also of my officers. Unfortunately experience has demonstrated that criminal terrorist elements have used the cover of similar incidents to lure police into this area with the express intention of murdering police officers.”