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Sunday, 19 August, 2001, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Colombians puzzled by IRA 'bomb theory'
IRA suspects
'Super-bomb' theory discounted by Colombians
By Jeremy McDermott in Colombia

Colombian security sources are perplexed about reports coming from Northern Ireland that the three arrested IRA men were about to gain information on a super-bomb fired from a mortar.

Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley were arrested at Bogota Airport as they came from the safe haven of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), the country's most powerful guerrilla army.

Farc troops with burned-out bus
Farc use mortars made from gas cylinders
Traces of explosives were found on their clothing and luggage, but nothing out of the ordinary that would indicate the building of some unknown explosive device, said a Colombian security source.

The Farc do use home-made mortars on a large scale, launching them at isolated police stations across the country.

They are constructed from gas cylinders found in many Colombian kitchens for cooking purposes.

The Farc themselves have admitted the home-made mortars are rudimentary, and often cause more civilian than military casualties.

The Colombian security source said evidence received on IRA explosive devices and mortars showed that the Irish were infinitely more sophisticated than the Farc, and would seem to have little to learn from the Colombian guerrillas.

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott
"Traces of explosives were found on their clothing and luggage"
Former IRA member, Sean O'Callaghan
"The IRA is now exporting the expertise that they have learnt"
See also:

18 Aug 01 | Americas
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17 Aug 01 | Americas
Cuba link to Colombia IRA suspect
17 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Who are IRA suspects?
17 Aug 01 | Americas
Colombia put on war footing
17 Aug 01 | Americas
Abuse horror of Colombia's displaced
16 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Colombia suspects deny IRA links
08 Feb 01 | Americas
New Colombia peace effort
13 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
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