Weapons seizure in Croatia tied to IRA dissidents

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Croatian police have seized rocket launchers and other weapons being smuggled to IRA dissidents.

Croatian police have seized rocket launchers and other weapons being smuggled to IRA dissidents.

Officers raided several houses and warehouses in the town of Dobranje, near the Bosnia border and found detonators, anti-tank machine guns, plastic explosive and ammunition with the rocket launchers.

Three Croatian men were arrested. Similar weapons were discovered in Co Meath in October last year, indicating that earlier shipments from Croatia may have reached Ireland.

The arms in the latest find are thought to have been bound for a group linked to the Real IRA and Continuity IRA breakaway republican paramilitaries responsible for the Omagh bombing and suspected of planting two recent small bombs in London.

The Croatian Interior Ministry said it believed the weapons had been smuggled out of Bosnia, and arms smugglers are exploiting "the unstable political situation".

Years after the end of the civil war, relations between the former warring sides in Bosnia remain fraught, suspected war criminals are still on the run, and large numbers of weapons are still in private hands.

Information from "foreign intelligence services" confirmed earlier suspicions that some terrorist actions in Western Europe may have been involved weapons from Croatia, said an Interior Ministry spokesman. No foreign intelligence services were named.

Sources refused to confirm whether a separate shipment of arms seized in neighbouring Slovenia was also bound for IRA dissidents.

A Slovenian Interior Ministry spokeswoman said arms had been found in a Croatian-registered lorry crossing Slovenian territory, and the Croatian driver had been arrested. He told Slovenian police the arms were headed for a final destination in Italy.

The Slovenian daily Delo said the shipment included 150 hand grenades, nine rocket launchers and 15 rifles, as well as several pistols and ammunition.