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

Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy on BBC Radio Ulster:
"It's not a matter of disowning people - we must bring them along"
 real 28k

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

Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 17:33 GMT
Dissidents claim army attack
Device is similar to one found in County Meath last year
Device is similar to one found in County Meath
A man claiming to represent a dissident republican paramilitary group has said it was behind a planned attack at an army base in County Tyrone on Tuesday.

The caller claiming to be a member of the Continuity IRA said the organisation had tried to attack the Killymeal Army base in Dungannon.

No codeword was given in the call to the BBC.

A fully armed rocket launcher of a type never seen in the province before was recovered by security forces after it was discovered in a hedge.

Police linked the weapon to dissident republicans.

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

Row over attack

Earlier a war of words over the attack erupted.

Ulster Unionist security spokesman Ken Maginnis criticised a Sinn Fein spokesman for not directly condemning those involved in the aborted attack.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, Sinn Fein assembly member Francie Molloy would not condemn those involved in the incident.

"It's not a matter of disowning people - one of the things we have learned about this whole process is that it has to be inclusive.

"We have to try and bring people who, maybe at this stage, don't see the positive basis for moving forward, we have to show them politics can work," he said.

"Unfortunately the rejection by unionists of every positive move made this leadership of republicanism, every rejection they make is a negative, sends a negative signal to the broader community that politics can't actually work, won't be allowed to work."

He said the current state of the peace process, described as being "in tatters" by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, did not help in "bringing people along with them". He called for the immediate re-establishment of the power-sharing institutions.


Ken Maginnis: Accused Sinn Fein of "total hypocrisy"
Ulster Unionist security spokesman and MP for the area, Ken Maginnis, accused the Sinn Fein spokesman of hypocrisy for failing to condemn the rocket launcher incident.

"The sad reality is we have got a rump of republicanism that is no longer republicanism. Republicanism is the voice of the people and the current ethos of constitutional republicanism throughout Ireland has rejected the violence that Francie Molloy seems unwilling to reject."

The Fermanagh-South Tyrone MP said the accusation that the suspension of the executive was creating a political vacuum which would be filled by men of violence was an "excuse of a cowardly bunch who do not recognise the changes that have been made."

Mr Maginnis had earlier said the discovery vindicated his party's calls for paramilitary disarmament and proved republicans were "wedded to the past", an accusation dismissed by Francie Molloy.

It is understood the rocket launcher may have originated in eastern Europe. It was similar to one recently seized by the security forces in the Republic of Ireland, which was linked to the Real IRA.

An all-day security operation was mounted in the vicinity of the discovery throughout Tuesday.

Families were moved from their homes on Killymeal Road while the device was investigated by Army bomb disposal experts.

It was found just after pupils had finished travelling to three local schools. The nearby leisure centre was also closed.

Similar weapon found'

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.

The discovery in Dungannon follows the seizure of several weapons and a quantity of explosives in the town in February.

Last week, an explosion occurred at Shackleton Army barracks in Ballykelly, Co Londonderry. Later an unexploded device containing several pounds of explosives was discovered adjacent to the barracks.

A man claiming to be from the Continuity IRA said they carried out the attack.

But the caller to the BBC in Belfast did not give a code-word.

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See also:

29 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Rocket launcher linked to dissidents
25 Oct 99 |  Northern Ireland
Irish police seize rocket launcher
06 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Outrage at bombing
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