There was renewed activity by republican militants in south Armagh over the Christmas period.
A major police alert on one or the country’s busiest roads was followed within 24 hours by a gun attack on Crossmaglen PSNI station.
On Wednesday morning, the A1 road outside Newry was closed and a number of houses evacuated following a report of a suspicious vehicle abandoned.
The section of the main Belfast-Dublin road between Cloghoge and Jonesborough remained closed until 10pm.
A number of controlled explosions were carried out on a white Volvo van during the security operation and number of items removed for further examination.
The local PSNI chief stressed that a bomb had not been found.
“These items recovered from the rear of the vehicle are currently being examined but we can confirm at this stage that this was not a bomb. This was not a viable device,” he said.
“However, we believe that the items were components which had the potential to be used in the making of a bomb.”
Meanwhile, a number of shots were fired at Crossmagten police station on Wednesday night.
At around 11pm, a car, driving from the direction of Crossmaglen Square, stopped in the middle of the road outside the station.
One man got out of the car and fired in the direction of the station. The vehicle then sped off in the direction of Cullaville.
Crossmaglen Sinn Fein councillor Terry Hearty condemned the attack “unreservedly”, describing it as the work of a “tiny splinter group and pursuing a militarist agenda”.
“They are totally divorced from republicans throughout Ireland and abroad,” he said.
“They have nothing to offer but misery in their attempts to drag communities they falsely claim to represent back into conflict.”
He said the process of demilitarisation in south Armagh was “a key part of the peace process” and such groups are seeking remilitarisation.