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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

Pictures: 'Significant' amount of guns and explosives found during 12 day search in Lurgan

A pipe bomb uncovered near a nursery would “almost certainly” have killed or caused injury if detonated.

LURGAN PHOTO 2 PSNI Some of the weapons found during searches in Lurgan. PSNI

THE PSNI HAVE recovered “significant” amounts of weapons, ammunitions and explosive materials in the last 12 days.

On Tuesday, the police uncovered a pipe bomb beside a nursery school and a community centre in the Tarry Drive area. Some of the items found were believed to belong to the Continuity IRA.

As part of the major search effort, officers conducted 13 searches involving land and properties in Lurgan and Benburb from Sunday 29 April up until yesterday.

Eight of these were in houses, two at derelict properties, one at the derelict site of St Michael’s High School in Lurgan and its surrounding grounds, open ground in Kilwilkie Estate and in seven fields and hedgerows near St Coleman’s Cemetary in Lurgan.

Police recovered a significant amount of dangerous weapons including two shotguns and four handguns, explosives, fertiliser, ammunition, tools, an improvised detonator, a suspected mortar tube, component parts for bomb making, mobile phones and other terrorist paraphernalia.

LURGAN photo 1 PSNI Part of a shotgun and mortar part found during the searches. PSNI

Detective Superintendent John McVea, from the Terrorism Investigation Unit, said:

“These are all designed to do one thing – to murder.

Many of these highly dangerous items were found in locations where members of the public could easily have come across them.
This demonstrates the sheer recklessness and absolute lack of concern these terrorists have about harming people living in these communities.

LURGAN PHOTO 4 PSNI Some ammunition and explosives material found in a hide by detectives during searches in Armagh. PSNI

They added that a quantity of explosives, and items suspected of being used to make bombs were discovered during a search of a property in the Carrickaness Road in Benburb on Thursday 3 May.

The items recovered during the remainder of the searches belong to the Continuity IRA, the Detective said.

Pipe bomb near nursery

Detective Superintendent McVea added: “I am sickened that the search on Tuesday uncovered a pipe bomb left right beside a nursery school and a community centre in the Tarry Drive area.

LURGAN PHOTO 3 PSNI A suspected pipe bomb case and other equipment that were seized. PSNI

“Who in their right mind would put the lives of young children at risk?

I do not know how long it has been lying there so the reality is that parents have been walking past this twice a day while taking their children to and from nursery.

“And members of the public attending various activities at the community centre have all been placed at huge risk also. If it had detonated, it would almost certainly have killed or at the very least caused serious injury.

“The pipe bomb is old and rusty, but viable, which makes the device more volatile meaning it could explode at any time.

This clearly shows how reckless these terrorists are – they do not care if they harm people living in their own communities. In their pursuit to store weapons and devices to kill police officers and those working in the security sectors, they have no concern who or what they damage along the way.

The PSNI said that the searches sent “a clear message” to those involved in terrorism that their “heinous activities” would continue to be disrupted, and that they would continue to work with local communities to do this.

The PSNI are appealing for anyone with information about any suspicious activity or about any of the items we have found to get in contact with police on 101.

Alternatively information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.

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