Rocket launchers ‘intended to kill police officers’
Tuesday, 3 September 2013
NEWRY and Mourne police boss Davy Beck says he is in no doubt that two rocket launchers found hidden in south Armagh were intended to kill police officers.
A major security operation lasting four days took place in the Cullyhanna area from Tuesday to Friday following the discovery of the two eight-foot long mortar devices in the Bog Road/Lisleitrim Road area.
It has been reported that dissident republicans tried to lure police officers to the area two weeks ago amid claims of a suspicious device in the area.
Speaking to the Democrat, Chief Inspector Beck wouldn't be drawn on reports that the mortars were likely to have been fired at police helicopters investigating reports of a suspect device close by. He said: "It's too early to speculate on exactly what the plan was, all I can say is that it's clear, and I have no doubt in my mind, it was an attempt to kill police that are out there in the community in south Armagh trying to provide a normal police service and trying to work with the local community.
“That was the target in my mind; police officers out serving this community."
Following a "complex and protracted" security operation, police located the two mortar type devices on Tuesday (August 27).
A number of homes were evacuated during the course of the operation as army bomb experts defused the devices.
According to Mr Beck, the operation has now concluded but an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
He added: "This will be ongoing for some considerable time and that's where we need help from people and the community to ensure this carry on isn't allowed to continue and if people know anything or have any information then it's important that they make that known to us."
Mr Beck said the dissident threat in the area remains "severe" and called on communities to be vigilant: "The dissident threat right across Northern Ireland is currently deemed as being severe. What that means is that there's a real threat, so we have to be vigilant as a police service, we have to vigilant as a community.
“There are still people that want to do us harm and it's important we don't allow that harm to happen."
"The only way we can prevent this type of incident from happening again is to work together and I am asking the community to help us find those responsible by providing us with the information we need to place these criminals before the courts."
Meanwhile, Policing Board Chair Anne Connolly said the discovery of the mortars are a "very sinister reminder of the threat our police officers face in serving the community".
She added: "This type of activity is not wanted and police need the assistance of the community to ensure those who would wish to wreak terror do not succeed. Anyone with information is urged to report it to the police or confidentially through Crimestoppers."
Send to a friend
Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.