Bomb warning ignored
Bomb warning ignored

Civilians in Forkhill, south Armagh have expressed their anger after an abandoned bomb was left in a culvert on the border for over a week.

The unusually large device was claimed by a group using the title ‘Oglaigh na hEireann’, thought to be linked to the ‘Real IRA’. It was targeted to strike a Crown force patrol on the night of Monday, August 31, but appears to have been aborted when none appeared.

Despite a number of warnings to Belfast newsrooms the following morning, no action was taken over the device for four days, even as local residents passed along the road.

A number of families in the area were finally warned the following weekend and evacuated their homes.

“The worry of some of the local people is that spotter planes and helicopters were out before they were even told about it,” said local councillor Anthony Flynn.

When people were eventually told, they were given 15 minutes to get out.

Mr Flynn said residents were “very worried and annoyed” that it took four days before they were informed about the situation.

The news organisations contacted about the bomb did not inform the public until the start of a major PSNI propoganda campaign on Tuesday of this week, a full week after they were made aware of the situation.

The PSNI said the device contained 600 pounds of home-made ‘fertilizer’ explosive. Linked to a command wire running across the border to a detonation point in the 26 Counties, the landmine was said to be capable of destroying an armoured vehicle.

The PSNI did not explain their delay in warning residents or the public about the danger, fuelling fears that the Crown forces, for military or propoganda purposes, may have been willing to risk another ‘Omagh’-type tragedy.

In 1998, a ‘Real IRA’ detonated in the centre of the county Tyrone town killing 29 civilians, despite the PSNI having detailed knowledge and forewarning of the device.

The PSNI insisted said their “overriding concern” was the “safety of their officers and the general public”.

Local Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said he was extremely concerned by the discovery of such a large bomb and criticised the republican group who planted it.

“I would question the motives of those who are putting the local community in such danger,” he said.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said his party had made it very clear that “those days are gone” and also put the focus on the dissidents.

“Some people were very, very frightened and outraged and I endorse what Conor Murphy has said: Let those who support these groups, or group, explain their rationale and let them come and talk to whoever they want and we include ourselves in this.”

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© 2009 Irish Republican News