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The BBC's Tom Coulter
"The dissident republican groups have been raising their profile an recent months"
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Friday, 28 July, 2000, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Arms find 'bound for NI'

Weapons haul included rocket launchers and plastic explosive
A shipment of arms apparently bound for Northern Ireland for use by dissident republican groups, has been seized by police in Croatia.

The find is said to be massive, including heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, plastic explosives and detonating cord.

A spokesman for the Irish police said the find also included anti-tank missiles.

He said the arms were seized in the first ten days of July. It is thought the consignment was on its way to the Real IRA.

The group was behind the Omagh bomb in 1998 which killed 29 people and injured more than 200 others.

Origin of weapons not known

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and First Minister David Trimble discussed the need for greater security co-operation when the met in Dublin following the find.

"We've been increasingly concerned about the increasing level of activity of dissident republicans," said Mr Trimble, referring specifically to recent bombs in London and an explosion in Stewartstown, County Tyrone.

Quantities of ammunition were included in the haul
RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan and Garda commissioner Pat Byrne met to discuss the dissident threat while the Republic of Ireland's justice minister John O'Donoghue and Home Secretary Jack Straw will be holding talks to increase legal pressure on groups such as the Real and Continuity IRA.

A man has been arrested in the Irish Republic and is being questioned in a border police station.

Three detectives from the Republic have gone to Split, Croatia, where a number of arrests have been made.

The origin of the weapons is not known, but Croatia is a huge arms market.

Croatian arms dealers are known to have supplied weapons during both the Bosnian and the Kosovan wars in contravention of international arms embargoes.

Weapons similar to those found in Split were intercepted in County Meath in the Irish Republic last October.

That haul included an RPG 18 rocket launcher which can be used against armoured vehicles and was thought to have come from the Balkans region.

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See also:

20 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Police 'working to thwart dissidents'
19 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Ahern: Dissidents 'still pose threat'
19 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Dissident republicans: Threat to peace
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