Three arrested in cross-border crackdown on dissident groups
THREE men were arrested in the North yards from the border yesterday after a major cross- border security operation aimed at dissident republicans.
The operation came as security forces in Northern Ireland were placed on full alert amid fears of a dissident republican Easter offensive.
Explosives and bomb-making components, as well as handguns and rifles, were also uncovered after a joint PSNI/ garda surveillance operation along the Monaghan/Armagh border.
Three men, two from the Republic, were arrested in the operation at Carna, near Keady in South Armagh, about 300 yards from the border.
The bomb-making equipment and weapons were found in the boot of a car at a remote Co Armagh farmhouse at approximately 5 pm yesterday evening.
Heavily armed PSNI officers flooded the area, while gardai from the armed support unit carrying Heckler and Koch MP7 submachine guns sealed the border from the Republic.
The PSNI described the arrests as "significant". A spokesman said last night the joint cross-border operation has been ongoing for some time in the run-up to the visit of Queen Elizabeth next month.
All those arrested were taken to Armagh for questioning by senior PSNI officers last night. Police revealed one of the men was from the Castleblayney area and the other was reported to be from Monaghan town; while the third was from the North.
A major search operation was continuing in the area last night. Police said the threat in Northern Ireland remains "severe" and urged vigilance over Easter.
Since the murder of 25-year-old PSNI constable Ronan Kerr three weeks ago, police have warned that dissidents are continuing to target its officers.
"Dissident terrorist groups are continuing to identify officers and target them with the single objective of killing them," a spokesman said.
"And, in so doing, their reckless actions will also put the lives of our wider communities at risk. We ask for (the public's) patience if they are inconvenienced due to police activity," a spokesperson added.
The latest arrests come 24 hours after a group of former Provisional IRA members claimed responsibility for the murder of Constable Kerr. They threatened to carry out further attacks in the North.
Meanwhile, a 33-year-old man from Omagh, Co Tyrone, is to appear in court today to face a series of terrorist charges after being questioned by detectives investigating Constable Kerr's murder.