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Four men charged after improvised rocket launcher seized

Published 26/09/2016

One of the accused has been charged with the attempted murder of police officers
One of the accused has been charged with the attempted murder of police officers

Four men have been charged with a series of dissident republican terrorist offences after police seized an improvised rocket launcher loaded with a Semtex projectile in Northern Ireland.

One of the accused, aged 22, has been charged with the attempted murder of police officers and possession of explosives with intent to endanger life in Lurgan, Co Armagh, on August 31.

The other three , aged 22, 24 and 46, have been charged with preparation of terrorist acts, namely the targeting of a former member of the security forces in the nearby Craigavon area.

The men were arrested last week as officers recovered a fully prepared explosively formed projectile (EFP) that was ready for deployment.

Police said the EFP, which has since been made safe, was an improvised explosive device designed to penetrate armour plating when fired at relatively close range from a makeshift launcher.

All four accused will appear at Craigavon Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

The charges are linked to a major police operation targeting dissidents in Lurgan last week.

Officers have released an image of the improvised rocket's makeshift casing, a detonator, Semtex plastic explosive and copper piping. They said it was recovered in a derelict house in a residential area.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) A ssistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: "We are relieved and delighted to have taken an extremely dangerous explosive device out of circulation.

"Our experience of these devices in Northern Ireland has been that they have been used to try to kill police officers. Our action has probably saved lives and definitely made the community safer."

He added: "This investigation has been running for some time, led by detectives from crime operations who have worked closely with colleagues in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District, and received invaluable support from colleagues in operational support department.

"The device was located in a derelict house in a residential area close to people's homes. Those responsible have absolutely no regard for the local community, or indeed any community.

"I would ask all those with any influence in the community to use that influence to persuade people not to get involved in this type of activity.

"People who get involved, particularly young people, face the prospect of significant, possibly life-changing, consequences.

"I would also like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding during the disruption of search activity in recent days. Our primary aim has been community safety.

"We are committed to doing this by working with the community and acting on information provided to us so that together we can keep people safe."

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