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Two held as coffee jar bombs found in Belfast flats

By David Young

Published 15/07/2016

Police at the scene yesterday
Police at the scene yesterday

A cache of potentially lethal coffee jar bombs have been seized during an intensive search in north Belfast, police sources revealed last night.

The chilling find came after the security forces searched flats at Victoria Road in the predominantly nationalist New Lodge yesterday, during which two people were detained by police for questioning.

Army bomb disposal experts, police officers and PSNI forensic experts sealed off the area as they examined flats inside a tower block.

During the operation, eyewitnesses saw a female police officer taking a young woman from the flats before driving her away in a car for questioning.

Police forensic experts arrived in white suits to examine the flats.

The area remained sealed off last night.

It's just three weeks since 1.5kg of the powerful Semtex plastic explosive was discovered in Maeve House, one of the multi-storey tower blocks which dominate the inner city district.

Details of the operations remained sketchy last night but North Belfast SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon said: "There have been ongoing security issues in the area, with the recent discovery of Semtex in one of the tower blocks, and the intimidation of NI Housing Executive contractors."

At the end of last month, housing maintenance workers in the area found four blocks of Semtex, each weighing almost half a kilogramme - enough to make three deadly under-car booby trap bombs.

Security sources said they suspected that the explosives were to be used by the 'New IRA' - with PSNI and prison officers believed to be the potential targets for murder.

Detectives were working on the theory that the explosives used in the under-car booby trap bomb that killed prison officer Adrian Ismay earlier this year came from the same batch.

Security sources suggested the explosives were part of a batch that was meant to be decommissioned as part of the Northern Ireland peace process.

In 2014, two-and-a-half kilos of Semtex was found in a cupboard at Maeve House.

In a statement issued last night, the PSNI said that a 28-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman were being questioned by detectives at the serious crime suite in Musgrave Police Station in Belfast.

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