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Sunday, 12 November, 2000, 09:44 GMT
Real IRA 'planned London bomb'
London bus
London: Threat of pre-Christmas attack
A partially-made 600lb bomb uncovered in Northern Ireland last month was a Real IRA device destined to be set off in London in the run-up to Christmas, it has been reported.

The dissident group - blamed for the Omagh bombing - planned to detonate the bomb at a major event in central London, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

Showjumper
Bomb linked to showjumping event
The plot was foiled when the RUC intercepted the partially-made device on the western outskirts of Belfast on 26 October.

The bomb was reportedly twice the size of the one used at Omagh in August 1998, when 29 people were killed and more than 200 injured.

It was to be brought to the UK mainland in a motorised horse box and may have been destined for the show jumping championships at Olympia.

RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan reportedly relayed the information to the Metropolitan Police earlier this month.

The device was found during searches of the in Hannahstown area, which is on the outskirts of Belfast.

At the time police said they had found about 20kg of home-made explosive on Tullyrusk Road. They also found 250kg of fertiliser and a quantity of shrapnel and nuts and bolts.

Special Branch

Police indicated then that the find was being linked to dissident republicans, but no other details were made public.

The Sunday Telegraph said the significance of the find only became clear after Special Branch learned that a horse box was to have been used to mount a major attack in London.

According to the paper, the terrorists were planning to drive the bomb to the mainland by ferry from Larne, Co Antrim, to Stranraer in Scotland then south to London.

That was the same route taken by the Provisional IRA to plant the 1,000lb Dockland's bomb which ended its ceasefire in 1996.

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See also:

27 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Search after explosives find
03 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Real IRA 'fully to blame' for Omagh
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