Dissident republicans planted a bomb in a car stolen from a pensioner’s home in Armagh, it emerged tonight.
The blue Vauxhall Vectra – one of two vehicles seized during the raid – was found loaded with gas cylinder devices in the City Hotel car park.
Military experts carried out controlled explosions on the abandoned car during a major security operation.
It was discovered today as police investigated a robbery at a house on Ballyrath Road, Armagh.
Men describing themselves as republicans stole the Vectra and a silver Peugeot 406 from the property, along with a shotgun.
An elderly woman who was at home when the theft happened late on Tuesday night was left badly shocked.
A Peugeot similar to that stolen was later found on fire on a laneway off the Rock Road, Armagh.
But it was the bomb discovered so close to a busy hotel and nearby police station that provoked a serious alert.
The surrounding area was sealed off and residents had to be evacuated to safety.
As detectives hunted the gang involved, Superintendent Bob Moore, Armagh District Police Commander, hit out at those responsible.
He said: “There are those in our society who for some obscure reason wish to terrorise the entire community with their repugnant activity and redundant mindset.
“The motive for this incident defies logic and rational understanding.
“The attack on the elderly lady can only be described as despicable and the all that has been achieved as a result of the incident at the City Hotel is widespread disruption, worry and upset to the wider community residing, working, visiting or travelling through Armagh.
“It creates a negative impact and undoes all the good work that has and is being done by council, community leaders and the business fraternity to attract employment and tourism to the area.”
Meanwhile, soldiers have defused a pipe bomb in north Belfast.
The device was found against an outside wall of a bar on the Cavehill Road.
Police said a number of items were removed for examination.