Belfast Telegraph

Bomb parts and explosives found buried in country park

A terrorist weapons haul has been discovered in a forest park in Northern Ireland.

Bomb-making parts and explosives were recovered from Carnfunnock Country Park, near Larne, Co Antrim.

The discovery came after a member of the public reported a suspicious object to police on Saturday afternoon.

A number of small plastic barrels were subsequently found buried in a wooded area.

Police said the barrels contained a significant number of bomb-making components, including partially constructed devices and a small quantity of explosives.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Chief Inspector Gillian Kearney said it was unclear which terror group the items belonged to.

"All of these items will be subjected to a detailed forensic examination," she said.

"Until this has been completed, it is too early to link these items to any particular grouping, but we are following a number of lines of inquiry.

"I would ask the public to remain vigilant, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. If people report suspicious activity to police, we will act on it to keep people safe.

"We apologise that the park will remain closed for some time while a full clearance operation is carried out, but I hope people will understand the need to put public safety first."

The discovery came just over 24 hours after a prison officer was badly injured when a dissident republican car bomb detonated under his van in Belfast.

The 52-year-old father of three required surgery after the blast in the east of the city.

Police have warned that dissidents are planning a surge of violence in the run-up to the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Dublin.

Stormont Justice Minister David Ford condemned those who left the weapons.

"Those responsible for leaving these munitions have no regard for human life and are motivated by a need to create fear and disruption in our community," he said.

"Thankfully, due to the swift actions of the public and the professionalism and expertise of security forces, a potentially serious incident has been averted. I commend all involved for their vigilance."

It is understood no Semtex was found among the haul of explosives.

There are fears that dissident republicans have got their hands on a quantity of the Libyan-supplied plastic explosive used by the Provisional IRA during the Troubles.

It is understood that police suspect a potential dissident connection to the Larne cache. But, given that the location of the find is in a predominantly unionist area, detectives are keeping an open mind on responsibility until further inquiries have been carried out.

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