Belfast Telegraph

Newry bomb 'aimed at killing police'

By Steven McCaffery

A bomb found near the border contained 500lbs of explosives and was aimed at killing security forces, a politician for the area has said.

Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy, who is also a minister in the Stormont government, said the device found near Newry in Northern Ireland was believed to be part of a plot to kill police.

The alert was raised when a suspicious vehicle was spotted on the Fathom Line road on Thursday, and security forces today confirmed a viable device had been discovered.

Mr Kennedy said the scale of the bomb suggested that an attempt at a major attack by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process had been prevented.

"Clearly this was an attempt to lure a police patrol into that area, with potentially lethal consequences," he said.

Mr Kennedy said the dissidents were "dangerous and dedicated terrorists, who are determined to cause serious harm, injury and death to members of the security forces regardless of the consequences to local communities".

The Stormont regional development minister said he was very concerned at the increasing number of attacks planned and executed by republican dissidents around the border town of Newry.

Mr Kennedy paid tribute to the Army bomb disposal team and the efforts of the police in dealing with the potentially lethal device.

But he said he feared it would be "only a matter of time" before the violent groups would claim the lives of security force personnel.

He appealed for the public to co-operate fully with the police.

Police revealed overnight that they had discovered two bombs following separate security alerts in Northern Ireland.

In addition to the discovery of the substantial device at the border, detectives found a smaller device under a car in the Ballygomartin area of north Belfast, which was also blamed on dissidents.

And in a third overnight security force operation, also in north Belfast, detectives investigating dissident republican activity found a number of guns and ammunition.

The border bomb was found in a white van on Thursday evening. Initial reports said the vehicle's engine was still running, after it had apparently been abandoned.

The subsequent security operation lasted into yesterday evening, and the scale of the device has only now emerged.

In Belfast, Chief Inspector Ian Campbell said houses had to be evacuated while the device found in the Ballygomartin area was made safe last night.

He said: "Those responsible for this have shown callous disregard for members of the public.

"The operation resulted in the evacuation of up to 80 people, including families with young children and elderly residents, for several hours."

He added: "The finger of suspicion points towards dissident republican terrorists and I appeal to anyone with information to come forward to police."

After separate police searches elsewhere in north Belfast last night uncovered an unspecified amount of guns and ammunition, the officer responsible for the area, Chief Superintendent George Clarke, said the operation had succeeded in combating activity by dissident groups.

"The actions of police have undoubtedly thwarted the attempts of criminals to inflict death, injury and misery on the community of north Belfast," he said.

"Police are determined to protect communities from these threats."

Mr Clarke appealed for the public's continuing assistance in combating dissident activities.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Alliance Party condemned the bomb incidents.

Alliance North Belfast representative Billy Webb said: "I am sickened by the people who are out to murder and injure by leaving bombs on our streets. These people are offering nothing to our society.

"I call upon these dissident terrorists to stop their reckless actions. The public does not want this violence on our streets.

"If anybody has any information about these devices then I would urge them to contact the police."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph