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Gardai uncover bomb parts and ammunition buried in field

Gardai have discovered a cache of bomb parts and ammunition during an anti-terrorist operation aimed at dissident republicans.

The haul included a small quantity of ammunition for a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a couple of dozen rounds for a .22 rifle.

Also included in the cache were a timing power unit, up to half a dozen circuit breakers, a battery, the back of a circuit board and other bomb components.

The items were found in a bucket that had been buried in a field at Killea, off a remote back road between Buncrana and Bridgend in Co Donegal.

The field had recently been excavated and gardai made the find on Monday morning when they searched it as part of their operation.

An Army bomb disposal team was called in and, after an initial examination of the find that evening, carried out a detailed probe throughout yesterday.

The ammunition and bomb components were described last night as being in good condition.

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Gardai believe the haul had been buried there by members of the Real IRA, which has been active in that area in the past.

Anti-terrorist officers have been carrying out a sustained operation in the county against dissident republican sympathisers, who are linked to a major Real IRA figure based in Derry.

Officers described the discovery of the bomb components as particularly significant as several breakaway republican groups have been attempting to step up their campaign of violence in Northern Ireland and are using this side of the Border for logistical back-up.

A local garda spokesman said last night that the operation was still continuing and would remain on-going for some time.

No arrests have been made as a result of the searches.

Meanwhile, gardai in Dublin are investigating the discovery of a dud grenade, which was found at the base of a tree near the Drumcondra Road entrance to Clonliffe College on the north side of the city.

Gardai were alerted after the grenade was discovered at lunchtime yesterday and an Army bomb disposal unit was called in.

Ordnance experts initially thought that the item, which had been concealed in a sock, was a live grenade and it was rendered safe before being taken away for a more detailed examination.

However, last night it was confirmed that the device did not contain any explosive content and the fuse had been expended.

Gardai described the device as an elaborate hoax.

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