Officers intercepted a van packed with explosives which was abandoned close to the city’s Foyle Bridge. Police said the 1,200lb device, which was made safe by Army bomb disposal experts, was primed and would have caused immense damage.
A police spokesman said two men, aged 33 and 24, were taken into custody this morning and were helping officers with their inquiries.
Police intercepted the bomb after noticing a vehicle acting suspiciously on the Foyle Bridge early yesterday morning.
The red Toyota van was later found abandoned on the nearby Clooney Road and police discovered wires and a timer pack when they inspected it.
Army technical officers were called to the scene and, after carrying out a controlled explosion, they found the massive bomb packed into two blue barrels.
Although police could not confirm the target of the attempted bombing, most of the attacks by dissident republican groups in the area in recent years have been carried out at security bases.
The attempted bomb attack was the latest incident in an upsurge in dissident republican activity in the last few days. The latest discovery follows a similar find in Louth, when police investigating dissident activities recovered 500lb of explosives, near the border with Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness condemned those responsible for the device in Derry: “The people who are involved in these activities are involved in these activities because they’re opposed to the peace process and they’re trying to destroy the peace process.” Chief Inspector George Brien said: “It is still at a very early stage in the investigation but it has all the hallmarks of a dissident republican device.”