The Real IRA was behind a massive van bomb found abandoned outside Newry last week, it has emerged.
Dissident sources last night confirmed that a codeword, used in two bomb warnings to Daisy Hill Hospital and a local charity, was previously used by the paramilitary group.
Sources say the 500lb bomb was abandoned at an underpass close to the main A1 Belfast to Dublin Road last Thursday night due to a heavy police presence in the area.
The discovery of the bomb came just days after PSNI constable Ronan Kerr was murdered in Omagh after a bomb exploded under his car.
Although there has been no official claim of responsibility, a Co Tyrone-based “independent” republican unit, with close links to the Real IRA, has been blamed for that attack.
Meanwhile, police say they are still awaiting the results of tests on an arms haul recovered during a raid in Brocagh, near Coalisland, last Tuesday.
Items found included four assault rifles, an amount of Semtex, ammunition, timer power units, detonators, component parts for bombs and incendiary devices.
Dissident sources say the weapons belonged to the Real IRA. Sources also say that ballistic tests may link at least one of the weapons recovered to previous Real IRA attacks.