Police questioning suspected dissidents

Two suspected republican dissidents are tonight questioned about a bomb seizure in Northern Ireland.

Two suspected republican dissidents are tonight questioned about a bomb seizure in Northern Ireland.

The two men were arrested when armed police stopped a car near the Irish border last night in a major undercover operation against the Real IRA.

Two under-car booby trap devices were recovered from a second vehicle abandoned not far away near Newry, Co Down, but the driver escaped.

Earlier this year a booby trap was planted under a young recruit’s car in a bid to frighten young Catholics from joining the new police service, and although no details were revealed about likely targets this time, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Hugh Orde, said death and mayhem had been foiled.

He added: “Lives have been saved.”

The two men arrested, aged 35 and 36, are believed to come from the South Down area where houses in Newcastle and Castlewellan were later searched as part of a follow-up operation.

They are well known to the police in Northern Ireland, security sources said.

It is understood police commanders involved in the two arrests late last night have established a definite link with the Real IRA, the organisation which bombed Omagh in August 1998, killing 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins.

The seizure was the first significant blow against the terrorists since Mr Orde became Chief Constable three weeks ago.

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