Terrorists who prepared to launch two mortar explosives in south Armagh had planned to kill police officers, according to a senior commander.
Police have confirmed that two mortars were discovered during a lengthy security alert in Co Armagh to which some have speculated was a bid by dissident republicans to attack a police helicopter near the Irish border.
After an almost week-long security operation in the south Armagh village of Cullyhanna, police have said the alert continues.
A mortar device pointing skywards was discovered on Tuesday where police and troops have been involved in a major security operation.
A police spokesman said that "following a complex and protracted security operation" officers had located "two mortar type devices in the area on Tuesday, August 27".
Stormont assembly member Dominic Bradley said: ''Those responsible still live in some warped existence of the past.''
The finger of suspicion has been pointed at republicans opposed to the peace process, who murdered two soldiers, two police officers and a prison guard in recent years.
The level of threat posed is still severe.
Chief Inspector Davy Beck thanked the community in Cullyhanna for their patience and support as the security alert continues.
"We know only too well the death and destruction such devices can cause and there is no doubt that the intention of those behind these devices is to kill police officers who serve this community on a daily basis," he said.
"We also know how inaccurate and uncontrollable these type of devices are and, to leave them in an area accessible to the public shows the total disregard these people have for the local community in Cullyhanna.
"Their actions can only be described as ruthless and mindless.
"The only way we can prevent this type of incident from happening again is to work together and I am asking the community to help us find those responsible by providing us with the information we need to place these criminals before the courts."