CRIMINALS are now selling deadly pipe bombs for just €100, the Herald can reveal.
Gardai are planning a massive crackdown on gangs after two separate attacks within days.
The problem of criminal gangs using the deadly weapons now threatens to spiral out of control. Today, a special Herald investigation can reveal:
- Army bomb disposal units have been called out to deal with pipe bomb incidents almost 60 times this year – the vast majority in Dublin.
- Criminals are selling the bombs (above) for less than €100, sometimes to children as young as 15.
- Security sources believe that around 65pc of the bombs in circulation are being made by Traveller gangs while the remainder are believed to be the work of dissident Republicans.
Within the past week, there have been two separate pipe bomb explosions in the capital which caused extensive damage to property and cars.
In the first incident, a bomb exploded after it was placed on a car window outside a house in Willow Wood Grove in Harts-town, west Dublin on last Friday morning -- the second time that this property has been targeted in less than a month.
And in an unrelated explosion, a "sophisticated" pipe bomb exploded underneath a car causing damage to the vehicle and two houses at the Temple Manor Grove, Wakinstown, at 1am on Tuesday.
Sources say that gardai are investigating if this pipe bomb attack is linked to another pipe bomb attack in the Crumlin area last month.
The situation is now so volatile that sources say that elite army bomb disposal units are as busy now as they were in the 1970s during the height of the Troubles.
A source explained: "The difference now is that the vast bulk of pipe bomb incidents are linked to organised crime and criminal gangs." Our exclusive photo shows a pipe bomb was thrown at a caravan which contained a young mother and her three children who are under the age of 12 in the Coolock area last November.
The deadly bomb -- which failed to explode -- embedded in the wall of the caravan at Cara Park in Coolock on the capital's northside.
The Herald can reveal that a number of Traveller families -- based mostly in the northside of Dublin -- are running pipe bomb factories in which "crude but deadly" bombs are being manufactured.
Some of those involved in making the bombs have links to murdered brothers John Paul and Tommy Joyce and sources say that in one bizarre incident late last year a criminal linked to this faction blew himself up while making bombs in a caravan. He did not suffer serious injuries in the incident and is understood to be still involved in making the bombs.
Another faction who are suspected of the wholesale manufacture of the bombs are a Coolock-based Traveller mob who have strong links to the Continuity IRA.
Sources say that the pipe bombs made by both these outfits sell for only around €100 each. A source explained: "Kids as young as 15 have been observed buying these pipe bombs from those gangs.
"It is big business for them - they are selling them on for between €90 and €110 and they are paying their foot soldiers €40 a go to make the bombs."
It is understood that the bombs made by dissident Republicans and former Provos are much more sophisticated and expensive than those manufactured by the Traveller criminals. "The Provos have years, if not decades, of experience of making these devices so there is much better quality there but it is important to note that even the crudest bombs can cause serious injury or death.
"It is a miracle that no one has been seriously injured in all these attacks and that is why gardai are making a big effort in trying to tackle this issue," said a source.