‘Police murder plot’ foiled after mortar bomb launching tube found

A suspected dissident republican murder bid against police has been foiled after a mortar bomb launching tube and command wire were found in Co Down.

The items were discovered by a member of the public on a roadside outside the town of Castlewellan on Monday.

Police believe the weapon may have been positioned on the rural Drumnaquoile Road as recently as Sunday – indicating that an attack may have been imminent.

The discovery prompted a major security operation in the area.

Castlewellan police operation
Castlewellan police operation

Detective Inspector Orr, of the PSNI’s Crime Operations Terrorism Investigation Unit, said: “The mortar tube and command wire will now be subject to detailed forensic examination.

“However, our initial assessment is that the items, which are in a fairly good condition relative to other similar devices we have uncovered, had not been at that location for very long. They may even have been there for as little as one day.”

He added: “I am appealing for local people to help us identify those responsible for leaving this device so close to a public road and to come forward with any information they may have.

“Whilst at this stage, it is too early to attribute ownership to any particular grouping, it is my belief that dissident republican terrorists are responsible and that this find has undoubtedly prevented an attack on local police.

“We know that the vast majority of people support our police officers and simply want to live in a peaceful society.

“We will continue to work with communities to disrupt the activities of the small group of people who are intent on using violence.”