Hidden in an pensioner's yard: deadly mortar aimed at police PSNI foils dissident murder bid
Dissident republicans used the home of an elderly woman to store a bomb designed to murder police officers.
The PSNI said it is likely the terrorists preyed on the vulnerability of the woman to store the “substantial” mortar bomb at the back of her north Belfast home.
Thirty homes had to be evacuated when officers discovered the bomb during an intelligence-led search of the property in Jamaica Street shortly after 2pm on Thursday.
Chief Insp Andy Freeburn said it is not clear whether the terrorists intended to launch the device from the property or transport it for use elsewhere.
But it is believed that the device was to be used to target a police vehicle.
The device recovered is called a Krakatoa — a horizontal-style mortar which can penetrate two inches of steel.
Mr Freeburn, area commander for north Belfast, said it was powerful enough to kill its targets and anyone nearby.
“Had it detonated it would have caused death. This is a built-up residential area. I am told this device had the ability to murder not only its target, but those in the immediate vicinity.
“The premises used were an elderly lady’s house. People have perhaps used the infirmity of this woman to store this murderous device.”
Detectives from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch are leading the investigation.
The PSNI said this is not the first time such a weapon has been recovered, but added it is a “worrying indication of the capability and intent of those individuals or groups who seek to bring death and injury back to our streets”.
Mr Freeburn said, along with the local community, he is “very angry” someone would put lives at risk in this way.
“But I would ask people to try and transform that anger into action. If you know anything about this incident, please come forward.”
Meanwhile, a 21-year-old man is being questioned in Antrim about dissident activity. He was arrested in north Belfast on Friday afternoon.