The discovery of bomb components in an abandoned lorry in Co Armagh have heightened fears of dissident republicans launching a fresh campaign of terror.
Major concerns have grown about an escalation in dissident attacks after police confirmed items discovered in the abandoned lorry had the potential to make a bomb.
Tensions have been further heightened after a number of shots were also fired at a police station in south Armagh on Wednesday night.
Police are attempting to track the origins and planned destination of the explosive material found in a lorry on the A1 Newry Road on Wednesday.
Forensic examinations were yesterday carried out on an unidentified “granular” substance found packed into barrels and drums inside the lorry.
Police later confirmed the material found in the lorry was not a bomb — but had the potential to make one.
A number of controlled explosions were carried out by Army Technical Officers (ATO) on a white Volvo van during the security operation and number of items removed for further examination.
Speculation has been growing that police foiled a plot by dissident republicans to smuggle a substantial amount of explosives across the border into Northern Ireland.
It is understood it had the potential to make a powerful explosive device or a number of smaller devices.
It is believed the lorry was being driven from the Republic to one or a number of locations in Northern Ireland.
Just hours after the security alert in Newry ended on Wednesday night shots were fired at Crossmaglen police station at 11pm.
A man got out of a car and fired a number of shots in the direction of the station. The car then made off at speed in the direction of Culloville.
Newry and Mourne police commander Chief Inspector Sam Cordner said: “Thankfully no-one was injured during either of these incidents.”
And DUP Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt said the threat from dissident republicans remained severe.