Police have recovered a fully primed bomb along with a firearm and ammunition during a largescale public safety search operation in an area of Ballymagroarty, Derry/Londonderry.
The search by both police and military personnel, focused on an area of more than 38 acres of land and took place over two days, beginning on the morning of Friday 5 June and concluding on Saturday evening 6 June.
Derry City and Strabane District Commander Chief Superintendent Emma Bond said: “This operation was designed specifically to find items we believed were being stored by violent dissident republicans in the Ballymagroarty area and which posed a serious and imminent risk to the community.
We were able to locate and safely remove a command-wire initiated bomb, a handgun and a quantity of ammunition. A strong line of enquiry is that these munitions belong to the New IRA. They have now been seized and will be subject to rigorous forensic examination in the coming days and weeks.
The weapon found appears to be of the same type and calibre as the gun we believe was used to murder Lyra McKee, however at this time we are not in a position to say whether this is the murder weapon.
The gun will be subject to extensive forensic testing in the coming days and weeks to determine if there is a link between this firearm and Lyra’s murder.
Whilst we regard this as an encouraging line of enquiry, I will repeat that we cannot definitively say at this time whether or not this is the murder weapon. That determination will be guided by the forensics.
The fact that these items were left close to a populated area, and particularly on land where children are known to play, yet again underlines the total lack of regard these violent terrorist criminals have for their own communities.
These people are so singularly focused on murdering police officers that they do not care if others – men, women, children, families – are caught up in their evil plots. The community is simply collateral damage.
Violent dissident Republicans are immersed in a constant campaign to kill police. This is the reality we live with every day, and yet everyday police officers come into work, they go out into communities like Ballymagroarty and they work to build relationships and tackle the issues that matter to local people.
Support and information from the local community is vital to fighting the scourge of terrorism. Anything you know, or anything you have seen – share that information with us and help us put these criminals out of business.
You can call us on 101, 999 in an emergency or information can be given to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Photos: Device firing pack, Proximity of scene to local homes & Children’s ‘den’ near to where the bomb and gun were found.