Army experts in Northern Ireland have defused a massive roadside bomb, averting what could have been a “devastating” explosion in the long-troubled British province.
The discovery of the 270kg home-made device came six months after dissident Republicans shot two British soldiers and a police officer, reviving the spectre of violence more than a decade after a landmark peace accord.
The bomb was found outside the village of Forkhill near the border with the Irish Republic in South Armagh, along with a command wire from the roadside where it was found to the other side of the border.
“There could have been a devastating outcome to this incident,” Newry and Mourne police commander Chief Inspector Sam Cordner said.
“The actions of terrorist criminals in planting this device… put local people and police officers at significant risk. Their actions were reckless and dangerous in the extreme.”
Pledge to decommission weapons
He added: “Their target may have been the police, but they did not care who they killed or injured.
“It is only through the hard work and professionalism of police officers and their military colleagues that the area has been made safe.”
The device was found hours after officials said that the last remaining loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have pledged to decommission weapons within six months.
A 1998 peace accord ended most of the violence that had plagued Northern Ireland for three decades, killing at least 3,500 people.
Devolved self-rule is in place in the British province after a landmark accord in 2007 between the Protestant Democratic Unionists (DUP) and Catholic Sinn Fein.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA), the main republican paramilitary group, finished destroying its arsenal four years ago, overseen by the commission.