Belfast Telegraph

Bomb-making equipment seized

Police make three arrests as weapons recovered in dissident probe

By Lesley-Anne Henry

Two hauls of bomb-making equipment have been seized during a major police probe into dissident republican activity.

Officers from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch recovered the materials during an ongoing operation in south Armagh on Saturday.

Twenty-four hours earlier, a weapons cache including machine guns, rifles and handguns, was discovered when a vehicle was stopped in the village of Keady, also in south Armagh.

Three men aged 34, 35 and 39 years old, arrested in relation to the raid on Friday and a separate ammunition find close to the Irish border, will appear in court today charged with terrorism offences.

A PSNI spokeswoman said the trio had been charged with possession of firearms with intent to endanger life; preparation for committing acts of terrorism and having articles likely to be of use to terrorists.

There have been no further arrests and police have not provided details of the locations of the bomb-making equipment finds.

The seizures, which police describe as “significant” were made as officers were put on high alert amid fears that dissident republicans could launch a terror attack to mark the traditional republican Easter commemorations.

Last week the Belfast Telegraph revealed that a group of former Provisional IRA members had claimed responsibility for the murder of police officer Ronan Kerr three weeks ago.

In their first statement the group, which insisted they were entirely separate from the Real IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH), and the Continuity IRA — vowed to continue a campaign of violence.

Increased patrol and checkpoints were being mounted in a bid to thwart any act of violence and police urged members of the public to be on their guard.

Background

Disaffected Provisional IRA members claimed responsibility for the murder of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr, who was killed on April 2. They said they have been involved in other attacks including the murder of two soldiers at Massereene and the car bomb which injured PSNI officer Peadar Heffron.

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