Belfast Telegraph

Explosives seized as police probe new terror group

By Cate McCurry

Police officers probing dissident republican activity have uncovered what is believed to be crudely made pipe bombs and explosive material.

The discovery comes following reports of a new paramilitary group in Strabane.

Detectives from the Serious Crime Branch discovered the explosives and bomb-making material during a search on land in the Cemetery Road area of the Co Tyrone town yesterday morning. Army bomb officers were called to the scene but no homes were evacuated and no roads were closed during the operation.

The PSNI said the search was part of its investigations into the activities of dissident republicans in Strabane.

In a separate incident police carrying out a search in the Ballycolman area of Strabane on Saturday morning recovered a suspected firearm.

Four houses were evacuated as police and army bomb squad officers carried out the operation. The suspected firearm was discovered during police investigations into dissident republican activity in the area.

It is believed that the explosives were found with a number of clothing items hidden in a hedge close to the town centre.

West Tyrone MLA Ross Hussey said the weekend's discoveries were an ongoing concern.

The Ulster Unionist said: "It's very surprising that police officers have made such a find because we are continually being told that dissident groups are small but if they have access to explosives then that means they are a lot more active than we think.

"There is a very strong and visible link between dissident republicans and the Provisional IRA. I think it's clear to see that former Provisional IRA members are still serving.

"Some day there will be a major catastrophe," he added.

Sinn Fein West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff called on dissident republicans to cease their activities.

He said: "My message to dissident republicans would be that there is a political path to follow if they are genuine Irish republicans in their outlook and intention.

"I would call on micro-groups, who have no support, to stop what they are doing."

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