Huge security operation underway as 'major border bomb attack' foiled in Northern Ireland

Reports indicate that the Army has found a rocket launcher and at least two mortar devices

A major bomb attack in Northern Ireland has been thwarted as police and soldiers were involved in a wide-scale security operation close to the border in South Armagh.

A rocket launcher and at least two mortar weapons were found following a search which has lasted for several days. It is unclear whether the Army will continue to look for further devices.

Reports indicated that the mortars, already set up and planted vertically, could have been about to be used to attack a police helicopter while it was responding to another incident.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said all members of the public were being asked to avoid the area, close to the village of Cullyhanna.

They confirmed that at least one of the "suspicious objects" was a "mortar type device", and said: "Army Technical Officers are continuing to examine and make safe the device."

Local Sinn Féin councillor Colman Burns told the Guardian last night up to 11 families were evacuated from their homes on Sheetrim Road.

Troops have been scouring the countryside, using sniffer dogs and metal detectors, searching for equipment believed to have been acquired and hidden by republican dissidents.

The prevented attack was believed to be planned as the latest in a series over recent years which have claimed the lives of two soldiers, a police officer and a prison guard.

Ulster Unionist assembly member Danny Kennedy described the discovery as “distressing”.

He said: “I am concerned at both the capability and the intent of those sinister elements behind this attack 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.”

Nationalist SDLP member Dominic Bradley said the scare had resulted in "palpable anger" amongst the local community.

"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

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

Two men were arrested and later remanded in custody following a court appearance.

Mortars have also been found during security alerts in Belfast, and last year the Real IRA abandoned a huge bomb close to the M1 motorway in the border region.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss