Northern Ireland

Dissident weapons seized in Lurgan and Benburb

WEAPONS Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The weapons including two shotguns, four handguns, explosives, ammunition and a suspected mortar tube

Police have said a "significant amount of dangerous weapons" have been seized during a 12-day search operation in counties Armagh and Tyrone.

Thirteen searches took place on land and properties in Lurgan and Benburb from 29 April to 11 May.

The weapons including two shotguns, four handguns, explosives, ammunition and a suspected mortar tube.

Police believe the munitions belonged to two dissident republican paramilitary groups.

They said those found during a search of a property on the Carrickaness Road in Benburb, including a quantity of explosives, belonged to a group calling itself Arm Na Poblachta. (Army of the Republic)

They believe the remainder belonged to the Continuity IRA.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Police have linked the weapons to two dissident republican republican groups

"These are all designed to do one thing - to murder. Many of these highly dangerous items were found in locations where members of the public could easily have come across them," Det Supt John McVea said.

"I am sickened that the search on Tuesday [8 May] uncovered a pipe bomb left right beside a nursery school and a community centre in the Tarry Drive area [of Lurgan].

"Who in their right mind would put the lives of young children at risk? I do not know how long it has been lying there so the reality is that parents have been walking past this twice a day while taking their children to and from nursery.

"The pipe bomb is old and rusty, but viable, which makes the device more volatile, meaning it could explode at any time."

Det Supt McVea said it showed how reckless the paramilitaries are: "In their pursuit to store weapons and devices to kill police officers and those working in the security sectors, they have no concern who or what they damage along the way."