Police foil massive bomb attack in North as mortars seized
Officers seized four primed mortars minutes before dissident republicans planned to blitz a police station in the North, it was revealed.
Officers in Derry rammed a van carrying the bombs, which were just about to be launched through the roof, which had been cut open. Two men were arrested, one of whom had been following behind on a motorbike. A third was detained later.
Senior officers in Derry believe the van was on its way to be parked near a police station and the devices then triggered from a specially constructed launch pad in the back of the vehicle.
Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin said there could have been massive carnage if the van had not been intercepted. He said: "I have no doubt they could have caused mass casualties. We could have been looking at mass murder today if they had hit their intended target."
Two of the detained men are aged 37 and the third is 35. One of them was driving the van when officers swooped in a major undercover operation in Lone Moor Road.
Politicians on all sides praised the police in the Brandywell area of Derry, the UK's City of Culture.
The van is believed to have crossed the border with Co Donegal just a few miles away and may have been on its way towards the Strand Road, the city's main police station.
SDLP MP for Foyle Mark Durkan said: "These mortars bombs are not precision devices - and God only knows where any one of those four devices could have gone or the damage it could have done. We have all been spared an awful catastrophe - not only in physical terms to buildings or our infrastructure but also in human terms."
Meanwhile, police confirmed that a crude but viable explosive device was left outside a shop in Co Antrim. Army bomb experts were called to Doagh Road in Newtownabbey during the early hours of Monday.
Police said the four-and-a-half-hour alert ended at about 6.20am.