A roadside bomb attack by dissident republicans is believed to been foiled by police and troops in Northern Ireland, RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan confirmed today.
As detectives detained four men about loyalist paramilitary attacks in Coleraine, in Derry, an army explosives disposal team spent the fourth day attempting to defuse what is thought to be a major device five miles outside Armagh city.
It was discovered by security forces off the Monaghan Road, just 24 hours after two police officers escaped uninjured when a blast bomb exploded at the back of their patrol car in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.
Dissident republicans have been linked to this attack as well.
An RUC spokesman said it could be later today, or even tomorrow, before the suspected bomb at Armagh was dealt with.
Sir Ronnie said: ‘‘I will be very surprised if that does not turn out during the course of the day to a very real and significant explosive device, undoubtedly deployed to kill our officers and military colleagues who would have passed by.’’
It was first spotted in a bin on the side of Brootally Road, five miles outside the city.
On Sunday night in Cookstown, two RUC officers came within a split second of being blown up by the blast bomb which went off at the rear of their car.
The Chief Constable told BBC Radio Ulster: ‘‘Dissident republicans pose a very real and very growing threat.’’
The four men arrested in Coleraine today were questioned about a series of loyalist attacks on Catholic homes and families in the town.