'Megabomb' defused in Ulster

 

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The Independent Online

A van bomb containing 600lbs of homemade explosive was "ready to go" and could have caused major loss of life, police in Northern Ireland said yesterday.

Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson said the device, found near the Irish border outside Newry on Thursday, was larger than originally estimated. "This was a very significant device," he said. "If it had exploded it would have caused devastation."

Ch Supt Robinson said the device was twice as big as the car bomb that damaged Newry's courthouse in 2010. "Anyone within 50 metres of this device would have been killed and anyone within 100 metres, seriously injured," he said.

A member of the public noticed a white Citroen Berlingo van abandoned on the Fathom Line road last Thursday. A security operation was launched and ended late on Friday. Ch Supt Robinson said the intended target and the reason the device was abandoned were unclear.

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process are being blamed for the failed attack.

Ch Supt Robinson said the incident was the third in the Newry area in the past few weeks.