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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 21:40 GMT
Large bomb seized in Armagh
Police say the bomb had all the hallmarks of dissident republicans
Police say the bomb had all the hallmarks of dissident republicans
The police have said a large car bomb intercepted on the outskirts of Armagh City on Tuesday morning was primed and ready for use.

Officers said there was several hundred pounds of explosives in the device and that it was large enough to cause death and destruction on a large scale.

It is understood a police patrol in the Killylea area spotted a white Vauxhall car stopped at the side of the Knappagh Road in the early hours of Tuesday.

One man was arrested and the area was cordoned off until army bomb experts could examine the car at first light.

Residents were later allowed to return to their homes on Tuesday after they were evacuated.

Hallmarks

The police have blamed dissident republicans.

Dissident republican groups, including the Real IRA and Continuity IRA, are opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and the political institutions.

Assistant chief constable Stephen White: Blaming dissidents
Assistant chief constable Stephen White: Blaming dissident republicans

Assistant chief constable Stephen White said he suspected the bomb may have been of the size of that which killed 29 people in Omagh, County Tyrone, in 1998.

He said the bomb had all the hallmarks of a dissident republican attack and was fully primed.

"In that area we have had a number of Real IRA attacks and Real IRA activity," he said.

Trigger mechanism

The army carried out a controlled explosion on the bomb.

PSNI Superintendent Bob Moore said: "We are dealing with a large home-made explosive device which consists of home made explosives in the boot of a car.

"A trigger mechanism was found on the front seat."

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said those responsible for the bomb had no support among the people of Northern Ireland.

John Reid:
John Reid: "These people have no support"

"Those responsible for this simply do not seem to understand that they cannot murder, maul and maim people into their way of thinking," he said.

"Today people are working together in a common cause to make Northern Ireland a better place and yet there are still some without a strategy who think they can bomb and blast their way into the past.

"They have no support, no strategy, no sympathy and they will not succeed."

Resources

The Ulster Unionist mayor of Armagh, Sylvia McRoberts, said the bomb could have resulted in "another Omagh".

"I think this reinforces the need for the government to make available all possible resources to the police so that they are able - in the run-up to Christmas - to have all the personnel they need on the ground," she said.

"It is very reassuring for us to think that this did take place last night and a bomb was prevented from going to wherever was its target."

SDLP assembly member for Newry and Armagh John Fee said there was a palpable sense of relief across the area.

However, he added: "There are people out there still willing to use the most brutal type of indiscriminate violence that these bombs represent to kill their neighbours and kill people within the community."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Annita McVeigh
"This bomb was primed and ready to go off"
See also:

19 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Dissident link to weapons seizure
21 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Irish police seize bomb equipment
Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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