UK & World News

  • 5 March 2013, 22:24

Two Men Charged Over Alleged Mortar Plot

Two men have been charged with possession of explosives with intent to endanger life after mortars were discovered.

The pair, aged 35 and 37, are also accused of possessing articles for terrorist purposes and conspiring tocause an explosion.

They are due to appear before a district judge in Derry on Wednesday.

Two other men are still being questioned about the bomb find in the city on Sunday night when police intercepted a van on the Letterkenny Road.

Four primed mortars were discovered in the back of the vehicle.

Detectives are trying to trace the movements of the van and a motor cycle which they believe were used by a gang which came within minutes of attacking the city's police headquarters.

Officers intercepted both vehicles on Sunday night and seized four primed missiles as they were being transported towards the Strand Road station.

The mortars were ready to be launched - fired from the back of the van which had its roof cut out.

Dissident republicans in Derry, this year's UK City of Culture, have been under round the clock surveillance amid heightening fears they are prepared to go to any lengths to disrupt the programme of events.

Police chiefs admitted the terrorists came dangerously close to inflicting massive casualties.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin, the district commander in Derry, said: "There is no doubt about their intention. They were intent to kill and cause maximum police fatalities."

The Superintendent added: "This was a risky, risky operation. Those mortars could have gone off at any time, and even if they (the terrorists) had reached the intended target there was no guarantee they would have hit it, because these mortars are so unreliable.

"Can you imagine what the outcome would have been had they landed nearby, on a gas tank or a petrol tank? It does not bear thinking about."