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SERVICES 
Friday, 30 November, 2001, 14:48 GMT
Alert leads to rail disruption
A hi-jacked lorry blocked the main road
A hi-jacked lorry blocked the main road
Dissident republicans are being blamed for a security alert which has led to the closure of a road and rail line at the Irish border.

A lorry was hijacked and set on fire and a number of bomb warnings were received by police in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The alerts began just after 1900 GMT on Thursday after police in Dundalk, County Louth, and police in Northern Ireland received a number of telephone bomb warnings.

The alerts led to the closure of the railway line at Killen Bridge between Newry in County Down and Dundalk.
Many passengers were bussed to the game
Passengers are being bussed across the border

At about the same time, a number of armed and masked men hijacked a lorry in the area.

It was subsequently set on fire and blocked the main A1 Newry to Dundalk Road.

Traffic has been diverted on both sides of the border and cross-border motorists have been warned to expect delays on Friday.

Bus and rail company, Translink, said passengers using the Dublin train service on Friday were being taken by bus between Newry and Dundalk.

The disruption came as the North-South Ministerial Council, set up under the Good Friday Agreement, met in Dublin.

Dissident republicans are opposed to the 1998 political accord and the Northern Ireland peace process.

Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy said the democratic process must always be sustained.

"I think it's another reminder to the government that they can't slack off in terms of local security," he added.

"It's too important. The level of threat is still very, very high indeed."

Cross-border rail services have been severely disrupted by security alerts in the past.

Earlier this year, the managing director of Translink appealed for an end to the disruption.

Dissident republican

At one stage, a cross-border rail link was closed for six days, following reports of explosions near Newry.

About 40 miles of track between Portadown, County Armagh, and Dundalk was affected.

The security forces later found three other possible blast sites. However, no devices were found.

Up until February this year, there had been 32 major security alerts between Belfast and Dublin.

Last June, an explosion damaged the Belfast to Dublin railway line a few miles from Newry.

The dissident republican Real IRA was blamed for that attack.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Mervyn Jess reports
"Dissident republicans are number one on the list of suspects"
See also:

12 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Blast was '100lb bomb'
20 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Blast evidence found near rail line
17 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Rail travel disrupted by alert
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