Northern Ireland

Capanagh Forest arms find: Police baffled by apparent dissident republican weapons dump

A hole in the ground in the forest with the weapon that had been stored inside Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The weapons were found inside barrels which had been buried in the forest

The discovery of what appears to be a second dissident republican arms dump near Larne within three months has police baffled.

Based on location alone, the analysis would be that the items found most likely belonged to loyalist paramilitaries.

But, the nature of what was found suggests otherwise.

The presence of an improvised armour-piercing rocket, Claymore mines and component parts of under-car booby-trap bombs points the finger of suspicion firmly in the direction of dissident republicans.

The PSNI has warned several times recently that the technical capabilities of dissidents has been increasing.

Image caption The discovery of the arms dump is the second such find in the Larne area in the last three months

This is most notable in the area of homemade bombs, rocket launchers and mortars.

A warhead found in the hide at Capanagh Forest at the weekend was similar to others dissidents have used or attempted to use in attacks on police vehicles in recent years.

Referred to as an explosively formed projectile, or EFP, it is a design that has been used in the Middle East.

It is a conically-shaped warhead capable of penetrating the armour of any police vehicle, and can be fired from a tripod or a tube.

Police uncovered another significant arms dump at Carnfunnock Park, an area which is also close to Larne, three months ago.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Two Claymore mines, which are sophisticated anti-personnel weapons, were among the arms found in Capanagh Forest

It also included items used to make under-car booby-trap bombs.

In a statement today, Det Supt Kevin Geddes from the PSNI Serious Crime Branch said the police are investigating whether the two finds are linked.

Given the location, and the manner and method of storage and packaging, it seems likely they are.

If that is the case, it would suggest dissidents have taken a deliberate decision to store weapons and explosives well outside what would be considered their traditional operational areas.

The police said that the latest find at the weekend, and the one in March, were both the result of tip-offs from members of the public who were out walking and noticed suspicious objects.

Det Supt Geddes has appealed to the public to remain vigilant and to contact the police about any suspicious objects or activity.

"Once again, this seizure has demonstrated that when people provide us with information, we will act on it to ensure everyone in our community is kept safe," he said.

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