Gardaí believe they foiled an armed robbery with the seizure of a sawn-off shotgun in Cork.
The weapon was seized along with a quantity of ammunition during a special operation between Mahon and Blackrock, on Cork's southside.
Gardaí from the Serious Crime Investigation Unit in Cork city carried out a search of an area next to the cemetery off Skehard Road at 2.30pm on Tuesday.
The operation was launched after receipt of detailed intelligence.
A painstaking search of the area recovered a single-barrel shotgun, which had had its barrel sawn off.
The weapon, which appeared to be quite old, also had its wooden stock removed.
It had been carefully hidden in an area just a few metres from the cemetery boundary.
Three shotgun cartridges were found wrapped in foil close by.
A detailed follow-up search of the area was carried out by the Southern Region Dog Unit and members of the Divisional Search team. However, no other items were discovered.
It is believed the items had been hidden in the area only recently.
Both the shotgun and the cartridges will now be sent for detailed ballistic analysis.
It is hoped the origin of the shotgun can be traced, amid suspicions it could have been stolen from its original licensed owner.
No arrests have been made but Garda inquiries into the seizure remain ongoing.
Detectives believe the weapon was in storage pending planning for an armed robbery in the greater Cork area.
However, detectives are also examining whether the gun might be linked to an upsurge in violent attacks between two rival criminal gangs in the city.
In one incident, footage was posted on social media of members of one gang threatening individuals in a rival gang.
The footage included a young man sitting in the front passenger seat of a car holding a sawn-off shotgun across his lap as the vehicle drove through estates where rival gang members live.
A number of pipe bomb incidents have been linked to the escalating rivalry between the two groups.
Clashes have taken place between the two groups over recent months, with gardaí saying it was fortunate that no-one had been seriously injured.
Gardaí have appealed to anyone who saw suspicious activity in the Skehard Road area over recent weeks to contact them.
Detectives believe that someone must have seen unusual activity in the area, given the large number of people who visit the nearby cemetery.