Cross-border alert as LVF threatens further attacks
GARDA anti-terrorist chiefs are drawing up contingency plans to prevent a spate of cross-border attacks by the outlawed Loyalist Volunteer Force and other splinter paramilitary groups.
A review of security measures was under way last night following a warning from the LVF that attacks similar to the car bomb planted outside the Garda station in Dromad, Co Louth, early yesterday, would be repeated.
Security sources described the Dromad bomb as a very crude device and said the Powergel commercial explosive used by the LVF was ``fairly old''. But they admitted that the device was an improvement on previous bombing attempts by that organisation.
The bombers used 2.5 kilos of Powergel in the device which also contained a homemade detonator, a timing power unit and a biscuit tin with more than 40 rounds of 9mm ammunition inserted in the explosive.
The device was placed on the rear seat of a black Vauxhall Astra car, which had been stolen in Craigavon on Friday night last.
The car was parked outside the garda station around 1.15am and the bombers made their getaway before the gardai went out to check the vehicle and spotted the device.
An Army ordnance unit was summoned from Monaghan barracks and dealt with the device shortly before 7am without causing any damage to property. In the meantime, Gardai had evacuated a nearby hotel, a disco and about 20 houses in the immediate district.
The bomb is thought to have been in retaliation for the attack on the RUC station in Moira, Co Down, on Friday night. Blame for the Moira attack and the Portadown bomb has been placed initially on the breakaway Continuity IRA although RUC and Garda sources say they will not make up their minds until forensic examinations have been completed.
The LVF claimed responsibility for the Dromad bomb using a recognised codeword to UTV in Belfast.
Another call claimed that a bomb had been planted south of the Border on the Belfast to Dublin rail line and led to its closure between 10am and noon. But the call turned out to be a hoax.
The Army bomb disposal team from Monaghan was again called out last night to deal with a suspect car outside the Europa Hotel in Drogheda following another telephoned warning.
Operation Outline, a big security exercise mounted by the Gardai to protect Dublin and key Border towns from a loyalist attack, was reactivated last September following the Markethill bomb attack by the Continuity IRA less than a month after it had been officially wound down.
The latest review is expected to result in more covert surveillance and mobile patrolling by Special Branch detectives.
Outline was put in place after the Provisionals ended their previous 19-month ceasefire with the Canary Wharf bombing in February 1996.