Bomb-making equipment seized in Co Armagh

Sat, Apr 23, 2011, 01:00

A large quantity of bomb-making equipment has been found during a joint Garda-PSNI investigation into dissident republican activity in Co Armagh.

Officers involved in the operation carried out a number of searches in the south of the county following yesterday's seizure of arms and ammunition near Keady.

Police said a 'large quantity' of suspected bomb-making equipment was found during a series of searches today. No arrests were made and investigations are ongoing.

The latest find comes after the PSNI issued an alert warning that dissident republicans are intent on murdering more of its police officers “in the coming days and weeks”. Security has been tightened across Northern Ireland as a result.

Three people are still in custody after a substantial haul of guns and ammunition was recovered yesterday after a vehicle was stopped and searched in Co Armagh.

The three men arrested were at the scene, near Keady, and were taken for questioning to the PSNI's serious crimes suite in Antrim.

The police service took the unusual step yesterday evening of issuing a statement urging the public to be vigilant for such attacks over Easter.

The warning to policemen was issued last night after a new dissident grouping, reported to be comprised of former Provisional IRA members, said it murdered Constable Kerr in Omagh three weeks ago.

The new group styling itself “the IRA” said it was responsible for the “recent execution of the RUC (sic) member in Omagh”.

In a statement to yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph it also said it was planning more killings and bombings. It said it was totally separate from other dissident groups such as the Real IRA/Óglaigh na hÉireann and the Continuity IRA.

The PSNI asked the “public to be particularly vigilant over the Easter holiday period due to the severe threat level posed by terrorists”.

“Dissident terrorist groups are continuing to identify officers and target them with the single objective of killing them. And, in so doing, their reckless actions will also put the lives of our wider communities at risk,” said a spokeswoman.

“Police believe terrorist groups are intent on trying to murder officers in the coming days and weeks. And while police will be taking all appropriate and legitimate steps to minimise this threat, they are asking for the public’s co-operation, assistance and forbearance as they do so.”

She made clear that Northern Ireland was likely to experience disruptive security activity over the holiday to resist the dissident threat.

“The public will see an increased visible police presence over the coming days and weeks and we ask for their patience with their officers if they are inconvenienced due to police activity,” she said.

Police urged anyone who saw suspicious activity to report it to the PSNI. “If you see anything which does not look right or causes you concern, please contact police.”

A 33-year-old man who was arrested by PSNI detectives investigating the dissident republican murder of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr appeared at Dungannon Magistrates Court in Co Tyrone today.

Gavin Coyle was charged with possession of firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life and possession of articles likely to be of use in terrorism.