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Arms seizure 'one of the most significant in years'

Published 17/05/2016

The find was described as one of the most significant in years
The find was described as one of the most significant in years

An arms find in Northern Ireland was one of the most significant seizures in recent years, police have said.

An armour-piercing improvised rocket and two anti-personnel mines were among the haul of weapons recovered in a "terrorist hide" in Co Antrim.

Several pipe bombs, magazines and ammunition for an assault rifle as well as bomb component parts and command wires were also concealed in barrels in purpose-built holes in woodland at Capanagh Forest near Larne.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) serious crime branch said some of the munitions were primed for an attack.

"This is one of the most significant seizures of explosives which police have made in recent years, both in terms of its size and its capability," he said.

"A number of these devices were ready to be deployed. This seizure has undoubtedly saved lives."

Two members of the public raised the alarm after noticing suspicious objects while out walking on Saturday.

The discovery comes two months after bomb-making items were found at nearby Carnfunnock Country Park - a popular children's play area.

The finger of blame has been pointed at dissident republican extremists who are opposed to Sinn Fein and the peace process.

DS Geddes added: "We are investigating a link to a previous find of munitions at Carnfunnock Country Park in the Larne area last March when bomb making components and explosives were uncovered.

Capanagh Forest hole munitions and barrel
Capanagh Forest hole munitions and barrel
Capanagh Forest walking track
Capanagh Forest pipe bombs
Capanagh Forest explosive powder.
Capanagh Forest ammunition 2
Capanagh Forest EFP
Capanagh Forest Claymore mine with shrapnel

"There are links in terms of the general location and the manner and method of storage and packaging of these munitions.

"The fact that an explosively formed projectile was recovered which has an armour-piercing capability means that one of our main lines of inquiry will focus on dissident republican terrorists.

"All these components will now be subjected to rigorous forensic testing in an effort to provide additional lines of inquiry."

Last week Home Secretary Theresa May raised the level of threat posed by dissidents in Great Britain from moderate to substantial meaning an attack in England, Scotland and Wales is a strong possibility.

In Northern Ireland the threat remains severe.

A self-styled New IRA has claimed responsibility for planting the booby-trap bomb which killed prison officer Adrian Ismay in east Belfast in March.

They also gunned down prison officer David Black in 2012 and killed Catholic police recruit Ronan Kerr in Omagh, Co Tyrone, in 2011.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has welcomed the arms find.

She said on Twitter: "This significant find is v good news. Terrorists will not now be able to use potentially lethal items."

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