Belfast Telegraph

Caught on camera: Dramatic moment dissident suspects are arrested after taxi stopped and rifle and ammunition seized

By Deborah McAleese

These are the dramatic moments anti-terror police seized dissident republican weapons during a planned security operation in Belfast.

Four men were arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences after an assault rifle and ammunition were recovered from a taxi that was stopped by officers on the Grosvenor Road on Thursday night.

Officers lay in wait for the taxi after receiving intelligence that a passenger was in possession of a weapon.

They swamped the vehicle as it slowed down at a set of traffic lights on the Grosvenor Road. One man, a 29 year-old, was arrested at the scene.

Another three men, aged 27, 29 and 46, were arrested during a follow-up operation at a house in nearby Hawthorn Street in west Belfast.

According to eyewitnesses two of the men attempted to escape when they spotted PSNI vehicles pulling up outside the property. They ran from the house but were headed off by a police vehicle at the top of the street. The fourth man was arrested at the property.

"It all kicked off when police arrived at the house. I saw two men taking off but a police car came down the other side of the street and caught them. A third man was arrested at the house," an eyewitness said.

It is understood the men had been under police surveillance for some time. Police believe they thwarted an imminent gun attack.

The PSNI said that the arrests followed an investigation into dissident terrorist activity by detectives from Serious Crime Branch.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said that all four suspects were taken to the Serious Crime suite at Antrim police station for questioning.

Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh, said: "The discovery of weapons in a car on the Grosvenor Road ensures that these weapons are taken off the street. Those behind such attacks have no support at a community level. They need to stop," he said.

He added: "These are yesterday's men who need to realise that there is a democratic way to achieve these goals.

"The political representatives of these groups need to come forward and explain their flawed rationale for the continuation of these acts."

DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said: "It is good to see these murderous weapons being taken off the streets and hopefully we will see more of those people with murderous intent being put behind bars. This is the latest example of effective, intelligence-led policing."

Background

The seizure of a gun and ammunition from a taxi in west Belfast on Thursday night is the latest successful police operation against dissident republican terrorists. Four men were arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences following the find. Earlier this month seven men were charged with a series of terrorist offences following a planned raid on a house in Newry as part of a major probe into the Continuity IRA terror group.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph