Northern Irish police prevent massive bomb blast

NORTHERN Ireland police say suspected Irish Republican Army dissidents have left a bomb in a van near the main road and rail links between Dublin and Belfast.

The van contained a viable device which was destroyed in controlled explosions, the police said.

Officers found the van, believed to contain hundreds of pounds of explosives, beneath an underpass after telephoned bomb warnings on Thursday night.

The security alert caused major travel disruption between the capitals of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The device, which was removed on Thursday night, is being seen as a further bid to kill police.

Leading politicians have said civilians could also have easily been murdered.

Northern Ireland Policing Board member Jonathan Bell condemned the bomb attempt, which came as detectives continue to question three people over the murder of constable Ronan Kerr.

“We had the capacity for a second Omagh tragedy of monumental proportions as a fun run with families and children passed Ronan Kerr’s vehicle,” Bell said.

“We are dealing with a viable explosive device on the major arterial route between Belfast and Dublin. With the massive numbers using this route is it the case that it is only the expertise of our police that has prevented further mass murder?”

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process are being blamed for Kerr’s killing in Omagh, County Tyrone, last Saturday.

The groups are also thought to be responsible for the van bomb on the A1 route.

In 1998 the dissident Real IRA killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, when they detonated a car bomb in Omagh.

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