Dissident republicans have been accused of planting a bomb in Newry which brought major disruption to roads around the city.
The PSNI said the device discovered close to the main Belfast-Dublin route contained a significant amount of explosives which could have killed or injured if it had gone off.
A police spokeswoman last night said: “A viable device was removed and it had a significant amount of explosives that would have caused death or injury.
“We thank the local community and motorists for their patience, while police and Army Technical Officers dealt with a very serious public safety issue.”
The A1 road which runs between Belfast and Dublin was closed for a time in both directions while the bomb was examined, bringing serious disruption on one of the busiest travelling days of the year. It was closed at the Cloghogue roundabout, close to the Forkhill turn-off.
Sinn Fein mayor of Newry Charlie Casey said: “Police have said that this was a viable device so I am glad that it was detected and made safe.
“This is an extremely busy stretch of road and I dread to think what could have happened.”
Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor condemned those behind the bomb.
“Those who carried out the attack have nothing to offer society and I appeal for anyone who has information about this attack to pass it on to the PSNI,” he said.
“It is a worrying and sinister device that was left in the area and it highlights the need for extra resources to put in the Crossmaglen area.
“I believe there is a high level of dissident republican activity in this area.”
Newry’s SDLP deputy mayor Geraldine Donnelly said: “Not only could lives have been lost, but untold damage could have been caused to local businesses which are already struggling in the economic climate.”