Republican terror attack thwarted in Northern Ireland – mortar van had roof cut off, police arrest three men in Londonderry (Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland police have discovered four live mortar bombs during a thwarted attack by dissident republicans in Londonderry.

They were discovered in the back of a van which had a section of its roof cut back as part of plans to bomb a police station in the city, a senior officer confirmed.

Three men, all in their 30s, were arrested – two at the scene. One was detained in searches afterwards.

It is understood one of the men had been on a motorcycle following the van when police intercepted it near the city centre on Sunday night,.

More than 100 homes had to be evacuated in the Brandywell area.

Police rammed the van and a motorcycle was also intercepted during what appears to have been a carefully planned operation.

Pat Ramsey, an SDLP member of the Assembly who lives in Derry, said the interception of the bombs was down to swift police action.

He said: “The fact that the van’s roof had been cut back shows that there was real intent to use these devices to cause serious injury or death.

“I am dismayed that dissident republicans continue to pursue activity which shows a ruthless disregard for human life. Any threat to those people who work to uphold the rule of law is totally abhorrent.

“This special year for Derry cannot be overshadowed by the reckless efforts of a delusional minority.

“People here deserve to live in a society free from violence and the threat of violence.”

Dozens of homes evacuated after the white van was brought to a halt shortly after 8pm as it headed towards the city from the border.

A wide area was sealed off and as homes were evacuated with residents being moved to Brooke Park Leisure Centre and Celtic Park GAA ground.

Police commander Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargan said he believed terrorists were just about to launch the attack, probably on one of the Police Service of Northern Ireland stations in Derry, this year’s UK City of Culture.

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