Mortar device found close to Border in south Armagh

Soldiers using sniffer dogs and metal detectors discover device near Cullyhanna

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police can confirm that the suspicious object found in the Bog Road/Lisleitrim Road area of Cullyhanna is a mortar-type device. Army technical officers are continuing to examine and make safe the device.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police can confirm that the suspicious object found in the Bog Road/Lisleitrim Road area of Cullyhanna is a mortar-type device. Army technical officers are continuing to examine and make safe the device.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

A suspected dissident republican mortar bomb was uncovered in south Armagh today following a major security operation involving the PSNI and a British army bomb disposal squad which is continuing.

The mortar was discovered in the Bog Road/Lisleitrim Road area of Cullyhanna following a recent warning that a device or devices were abandoned in the locality.

The warning was issued about two weeks ago, according to local Sinn Féin representative Colman Burns.

The operation has been continuing for a number of days with soldiers using sniffer dogs and metal detectors to try to detect devices.

Eleven families were evacuated because of the alert.

Local sources said the mortar was planted vertically, which raised speculation it may have been intended to attack a PSNI helicopter operating in the area.

Local Ulster Unionist Assembly member Danny Kennedy condemned the incident and said the “selfless actions” of the police and British army had protected the community. He said he had no doubt the plan was to kill members of the PSNI or British army.

He said he was concerned “at both the capability and the intent” of those behind the find “and it simply reinforces how important it is that local people give total support to the police and provide them with every assistance possible as they attempt to protect and serve the entire community”.

“I would appeal for anyone with any information to come forward immediately and help the police to catch whoever was responsible for this incident,” he added.

SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley said those responsible were reckless and irresponsible and had neither concern for human life nor the community of South Armagh.

“The people of Cullyhanna, South Armagh and indeed the people of this island want to be left in peace. Instead, those responsible still live in some warped existence of the past,” he said.

“There is palpable anger in the local community. This community doesn’t want this level of disruption as they go about their everyday lives.

“The community are relieved there have been no deaths or serious injury and they want those responsible to stop immediately,” he added.

In March, a mortar attack on a police station in Derry was foiled after the security services stopped a van with four viable devices primed and ready to launch.

Two men were arrested and were remanded in custody after appearing before a judge in the city.

Mortars have also been found during security alerts in Belfast.

Additional reporting: PA