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The BBC's Tom Coulter reports
"The rocket launcher was factory made"
 real 28k

BBC NI's David Morgan
reports from Dungannon: The Army have been at the scene for most of the day
 real 28k

Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 23:42 GMT
Rocket launcher linked to dissidents
Device is similar to one found in County Meath last year
Device is similar to one found in County Meath
The security forces have recovered a fully armed rocket launcher and warhead in a hedge near an army base in Northern Ireland.

It was found at the side of a house near the rear of Killymeal Army base in Dungannon, County Tyrone at 0820 GMT on Tuesday.

The weapon has been linked to dissident republicans and was of a type not seen in the province before.

It is understood it may have originated in eastern Europe.

It is thought the weapon was abandoned by those about to carry out an attack at the rear of the army base.

The weapon was similar to one recently seized by the security forces in the Republic of Ireland, which was linked to the Real IRA.

A Russian rocket launcher was part of an arms haul in County Meath last October.

Families were moved from their homes on Killymeal Road while the device was investigated.

Vincent Currie: Lunacy to leave near device school route
Vincent Currie: Lunacy to leave near device school route
It was found just after pupils had finished travelling to three local schools. The nearby leisure centre was also closed.

Superintendent Julie Lindsay said that to abandon such a device in the area had been an "act of indescribable recklessness which clearly put the life of people living nearby in danger".

She said officers were able to prevent children from walking by the garden where the device was located as they were going to the leisure centre.

"To even contemplate using such a device in Killymeal Road with homes directly opposite and a leisure centre next dooor, showed a complete disregard for the safety of Dungannon people," she said.


It is an act of criminal lunacy to leave that on the main route to a school where young children are walking past and where school buses Councillor Vincent Currie
"I would appeal to anyone who may have noticed anything suspicious in Killymeal road last night or early this morning to contact the police at Dungannon."

Ulster Unionist Security spokesman and MP for the area Ken Maginnis said the discovery of the weapon vindicated his party's insistence that paramilitaries should disarm.

He said it also proved that republicans were "wedded to the past".

Social Democratic and Labour Party councillor Vincent Currie said the find would bring back bad memories of a previous mortar bomb attack on the army base which devastated many houses in the area.

He added that it was lunacy to leave such a device on a road used by schoolchildren.

"It is clear to me that there are people knocking about who are prepared to go back to taking chances like this.

"It is an act of criminal lunacy to leave that on the main route to a school where young children are walking past and where school buses coming past.

"There are in excess of 3,000 pupils at three schools nearby. It is complete madness," he said.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the detectives at Dungannon on 028877525.
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See also:

25 Oct 99 |  Northern Ireland
Irish police seize rocket launcher
06 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Outrage at bombing
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