Belfast Telegraph

'Dissident' handguns found in Derry City Cemetery

By Lesley Houston

Mourners were kept away from the gravesides of loved ones yesterday as a security alert in which two handguns were found closed Derry City Cemetery.

A suspicious object was reported at 3.30pm, an hour before the public cemetery closes each day, in a vehicle in the car park at Lone Moor Road.

Searches continued this morning but nothing further was found.

The PSNI thanked the local community for their patience.

A military grade assault rifle was discovered in Strabane last week.

The weapons were found within the grounds of the City Cemetery and have been taken away for further examination.

District Commander Superintendent Mark McEwan said the weapons were possessed with the intent to "kill or cause serious injury".

The PSNI have said 'violence dissident republican activity' is the main focus of investigations.

District Commander Superintendent Mark McEwan said: "These are weapons that are made and possessed with one purpose in mind and that is to kill or cause serious injury to people. Those involved are intent on carrying out attacks on police officers and the local community. I am thankful this morning to be able to confirm we have taken these weapons out of circulation.

“While the removal of these weapons is a success it is very worrying to think that, within the District, this is now three firearms we have taken out of circulation this week. I cannot say if these are linked but violent dissident republican activity is the main focus of our investigations into both seizures.

“I would appeal to anyone within the community who has any information about this activity or those who are involved in it to contact Detectives in Strand Road. I would also like to thank the community, this is a very sensitive area to have to carry out such an operation and shows the total disregard that those involved have for the people of this City. It has caused significant disruption and we will work hard this morning to try and bring the operation to a conclusion.”

SDLP councillor John Boyle said it was likely mourners would have been forced to leave gravesides. "At that time of the day people would have been there," he said.

He added that it was fortunate that no funerals were planned for this morning, as they could have been affected. "These people have very little consideration for the bereaved," he said.

DUP Assembly member Gary Middleton said people will be "disgusted" that a weapon or device was left at a cemetery.

Meanwhile, police also attended a security alert in the Henryville Manor area of Ballyclare last night following the discovery of a suspicious object.

A number of residents were evacuated from their homes and stayed in a local leisure centre while it was examined.

Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact Detectives in Strand Road on the non-emergency number 101. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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