Armagh bomb was biggest device in eight years
The 600lb bomb found in Forkhill was the biggest to be planted in Northern Ireland in eight years.
The huge device, thought to have been the work of dissident republican group Oglaigh na hEireann, was defused yesterday following a week-long security operation.
Police said if the Forkhill bomb had gone off, it would have taken lives and damaged property.
In January 2001, a bomb made up of 1,100lbs of explosives and packed into two wheelie bins was found at Brootally Cross outside Armagh city.
During the Drumcree crisis in July 1996, a 1,200lb bomb planted by dissident group the Continuity IRA went off outside the Killyhevlin Hotel, Co Fermanagh. Seventeen people were injured in the blast while they were being evacuated from the hotel.
The Forkhill bomb is thought to have been intended to cause injury to security forces, who would have been lured to the scene by a bogus call.
It continues an increase in the activities of dissident republicans. In March, Real IRA dissidents murdered RUC Constable Stephen Carroll as he attended a call in Craigavon. His murder came days after the Continuity IRA shot dead Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey as they collected pizzas outside Massereene Barracks in Antrim.
There has also been an increase in serious dissident activity in Co Armagh. On August 28 a device described by experts as “crude but viable” was found near St Brigid’s High School, St Catherine’s College and Mount St Catherine’s Primary School in the city.
A week earlier Real IRA dissidents set up an illegal checkpoint near Meigh in south Armagh. Three armed and masked men were seen stopping vehicles at Railway Road outside the village.
In September last year a ‘viable’ 100lb bomb was found in a hedge in the nearby village of Jonesboro in south Armagh. A senior police officer condemned those who planted the device, saying they had shown “callous disregard” for human life.