Saturday 25 February 2017

Three men charged over arms seized near the Border

David Young

Three men were last night charged with a series of terrorist offences linked to the recovery of a cache of suspected dissident republican firearms in the North.

The suspects -- aged 34, 35 and 39 -- were arrested on Friday after police stopped a vehicle in Keady, south Armagh, close to the Border.

A significant amount of guns and ammunition was found inside it.

The men are due to appear in court in Newry today.

They are charged with possession of firearms with intent to endanger life, preparing to commit an act of terrorism and possession of items likely to be of use to terrorists.

The men were arrested as part of a joint security operation involving gardai and PSNI officers.

The seizure on Friday night was the first of three significant hauls recovered in south Armagh in two days.

On Saturday, officers made two separate discoveries of suspect bomb-making equipment in planned searches. Those finds brought no further arrests and police have not provided details of the locations.

The seizures over the weekend came as police remained on high alert across the North amid fears of a terror attack to mark traditional republican Easter commemorations.

As mainstream republicans held events across the island of Ireland yesterday to remember the 1916 Easter Rising, security forces had concerns dissidents opposed to the peace process would attempt a symbolic action. Increased checkpoints were mounted in a bid to thwart acts of violence.

Just three weeks after the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr in Omagh, Co Tyrone, police have warned that terrorist groups could be intent on attempting to kill more officers in the coming days and weeks.

A 33-year-old man arrested by detectives investigating the policeman's murder appeared in court in Dungannon on Saturday on a series of arms and explosive charges.

A police spokesman said: "Dissident terrorist groups are continuing to identify officers and target them with the single objective of killing them. And in so doing, their reckless actions will also put the lives of our wider communities at risk."

Police urged members of the public to be on their guard.

Meanwhile, a 40-year-old man arrested in Belfast on Saturday as part of a separate police operation against loyalist paramilitary activity was released unconditionally.

Irish Independent

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