Mortar bomb found in border town ‘was intended for attack on police’
Dissident republican group the New IRA was blamed after a passer-by found the explosive device on a wall in Strabane, Co Tyrone.
A dissident republican mortar bomb recovered in an Irish border town was intended to be fired into a police station, a senior officer has said.
New IRA renegades were blamed after a passer-by found the explosive device on a wall in Strabane, Co Tyrone, on Saturday morning. It had been sitting there for hours, close to a family home, police said.
This was the seventh incident of its kind this year and senior officers are alarmed by the threat posed by anti-peace process gunmen intent on inflicting harm.
A 33-year-old man arrested under terror legislation in Church View, Strabane, on Saturday has been released following questioning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.
PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said Saturday’s discovery was not being linked with Brexit.
He said: “We are concerned as an organisation in terms of that is the seventh attack this year of significance and it presents us with real challenges in terms of delivering a policing service.
“The key concern is … not just by the New IRA but other groupings, we are seeing devices left at bus stops in other parts of Northern Ireland and these devices left in vulnerable positions for extended periods of time with absolute disregard for the community – it is absolutely frightening.”
He said he was “astounded” at the recklessness involved in the planned Strabane attack.
“It could have overshot into a domestic home; my view and my assessment is that it was set there, it was sitting there, overnight for approximately eight to nine hours in this very vulnerable position.
“I have no doubt it was designed to kill and harm, not just police officers but the community.”
The prospect of a no-deal Brexit and its impact on the border is being monitored closely by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process, other police commanders have said.
Officers are on high alert for more attacks.
Police have said the latest explosive was a deadly device.
The rocket was found close to a home near the town’s police station.
Mr McCalmont confirmed: “This was a mortar-type device designed to be shot into the police station.”
He said it had failed to deploy.
Supt. Gordon McCalmont says the New IRA members behind the attack in Strabane ‘are living in the community.’ To further highlight the total disregard shown by the New IRA’, a public safety operation is taking place in Creggan. pic.twitter.com/409wXoSMKk— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) September 9, 2019
Mr McCalmont said dozens of officers were engaged in a search for bomb-making material on the Creggan estate in nearby Londonderry on Monday morning, close to where journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead in April.
He said New IRA members were living in the community, building bombs and storing weapons, presenting a significant risk.
“To further highlight the recklessness and total disregard shown by the New IRA for our community, as I stand here this morning a further public safety operation is taking place in the Creggan.”
It involves around 80 officers, specialist search, neighbourhood officers and explosive detection dogs.
The senior officer went on: “Our assessment is that this group is concealing bomb-making materials in this area.
“We have a small group of individuals absolutely intent upon inflicting harm on our community.
“They are living in our community, small numbers, and not allowing our community to develop and move on.”