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PSNI
UVF

Four charged after pre-planned search operation targeting the East Belfast UVF

Eight firearms, a large quantity of ammunition, three pipe bombs, balaclavas and UVF flags and emblems were seized.

FOUR MEN HAVE been charged following a “significant” PSNI operation targeting the East Belfast UVF.

The charges follow searches of three residential properties and one business premises in the Lower Newtownards Road area of east Belfast yesterday and on Friday.

The Paramilitary Crime Task Force searches were relating to suspected paramilitary activity linked to the East Belfast UVF.

All four will remain in police custody to appear before Belfast Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

The men, aged 51, 49, 47 and 34, are to appear on a number of charges including possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life and possession of a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

Meanwhile, the  51-year-old, 47-year-old and 34-year-old have also been charged with possession of explosives in suspicious circumstances and possession of explosives with intent to endanger life.

The 49-year-old man has been charged with possession of articles for use in terrorism.

Speaking yesterday, Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill, Head of Organised Crime Branch, said: “The long running pre-planned operation into East Belfast UVF involved searches of three residential properties and one business premises in the Lower Newtownards Road area of East Belfast.

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“During the searches we found eight firearms, a large quantity of assorted ammunition, three pipe bombs which we suspect are viable, balaclavas and UVF flags and emblems. Two vehicles were also seized.

“The reckless storage of these explosive devices meant local police had to close the roads and evacuate residents in two separate areas of the lower Newtownards Road last night, causing disruption for local people trying to go about their business.

“East Belfast UVF continues to be involved in a range of paramilitary crime, including violence, intimidation, money laundering and drug dealing – causing harm to their own communities.”

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