Belfast Telegraph

Pictured: Rocket launcher seized in Northern Ireland security alert - viable device in area for up to month

Police say items bear 'hallmarks of dissident republicans'

Police have recovered a rocket launcher during a security alert in Dundrod.

Officers were made aware of a suspicious object in the Budore Road area at around 5.30pm on Sunday and an operation was put in place to locate it.

Army bomb experts were tasked to the scene and removed the objects for further examination on Monday.

Police believe the rocket launcher was in the area for between three to four weeks and that the items "bear the hallmarks of dissident republicans".

Detective Inspector David Lowans from PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch said: "We have also established the launcher was viable which demonstrates that whoever left it there had no regard for who might come across it.

“During further searches on Monday, officers found a bag in a ditch less than 40 metres away from the rocket launcher which contained a replica pistol, baseball bat, hammer and gloves.

“While I am not able to link the finds at this stage they both bear all the hallmarks of Dissident Republicans and this is a strong line of enquiry.

“We are carrying out further searches of the area today following information from members of the public.

"I would like to thank the community in this area for their cooperation during this operation and I would also like to appeal to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area in the past four weeks or discover anything suspicious on their land to contact detectives at Castlereagh on 101 quoting reference number 1143 08/10/17. Information can also be given anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

MLA Steve Aiken OBE from the Ulster Unionist Party praised the actions of police which resulted in the discovery of the weapons in the Dundrod area.

The South Antrim MLA said: "Once again the entire community has reason to be grateful to the PSNI following the discovery of a rocket launcher, replica pistol and other terrorist related items in the Budore Road area of Dundrod.

"I am particularly concerned at the recovery of the rocket launcher and am in no doubt that lives have been saved as a result.

"The people of South Antrim want to live in peace in a normal society. It is incumbent on everyone to give the Police all the support possible to thwart the activities of those gangsters who seek to acquire weapons and impose their will on communities."

Mr Aiken added: "These groups are parasites and must be eradicated."  

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