Belfast Telegraph

Bomb placed close to kids' play park 'could have exploded at any time,' say police

Children's play group forced out during disruption

By Jonathan Bell

Police said the bomb uncovered during searches of a republican estate in Co Armagh near a child's play park was "primed, fused and ready to be used".

As well as homes evacuated in the Lurgan Tarry area of Lurgan's Kilwilkie estate a children's playgroup had to be taken to a safe location as army bomb experts worked on the device.

Police described as "staggering" the condition the device had been left in saying it could have exploded at any time.

The device was thought to be a pipe bomb left behind a community centre which is adjacent to a nursery school.

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart congratulated the police on the discovery.

"The fact that a children’s playgroup had to be evacuated demonstrates the disregard those who prepared this device have for the lives of anyone in our community," she said.

"I would congratulate and commend the police for their continued efforts in keeping the community safe within Lurgan. Over recent weeks their policing operations have resulted in the arrests of those parading with their faces masked and the removal of weaponry designed to kill.

"I would appeal for anyone with information to assist the police in bringing to justice those responsible for putting lives in danger.  Lurgan is a great place to live, work and do business and there is no room for this type of activity.  People do not support it and want these people to face the full force of the law.”

The bomb and a firearm were recovered and are undergoing forensic examination. Police thanked the community for their patience during the security operation.

"We are hugely grateful for the patience, understanding and support shown to us by the local community, with whom we are proud to work in rooting out the scourge of terrorism," said Superintendent David Moore.

"There is no doubt that this device was intended to harm police officers.

"However its placement and the manner in which it was left undoubtedly mean that had it detonated, it would almost certainly have caused death or serious injury. Working together with the local community, this particular act of potentially lethal recklessness has been brought to an end."

"Young children would have been walking right past this location and people residing peacefully in this area were put in danger. The misguided individuals behind this device are seriously out of step with this community and clearly don’t care about the lives of those living in the area and the disruption they have brought to their doorsteps.

"Placing this device where they did says much about the contempt and disregard in which they hold this community."

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly added: "Those who think they can drag us back to the past need to catch themselves on. Those responsible are nothing but cowards.

“This find follows the discovery of guns in the area, part of three successful searches by the PSNI. The police deserve praise in keeping our community safe.

“I urge with any information to contact the police or Crimestoppers directly at any time. We cannot have our community dragged back to the dark days.”

Sinn Fein also said the planting of the bomb in the area showed "complete disregard" for the safety of the community.

Councillor Keith Haughian urged those responsible to leave the stage.

“The placing of such a potentially lethal device in such close proximity to the near-by play park which is so extensively used by children and families in the area is madness," he added.

"Those responsible have nothing to offer the community.

"I would urge anyone with information on this attack to bring it forward to the PSNI.”

Secretary of State Karen Bradley also condemned the incident saying their actions have no place in society.

Police can be contacted on 101, or if someone would prefer to give information without leaving their name they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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