DUBLIN — British army experts defused a 600-pound van bomb Saturday on the Northern Ireland border, the largest such bomb in more than a year linked to Irish Republican Army die-hards.
British army experts defused the homemade bomb two days after a passing motorist told police about the abandoned van on a border road near the predominantly Catholic town of Newry, a hub for IRA activity. Police and soldiers took more than a day to search the surrounding area, fearful of a potential IRA ambush, before moving in.
Newry's police commander, Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson, said the bomb was "a very significant device. If this had exploded, it would have caused devastation."
Robinson said the bomb — two explosives-filled barrels attached to a detonator and power-timer unit — was fully assembled, viable and big enough to cause major damage to a town center. He said anybody within 50 yards of the bomb would probably have been killed had it exploded.
He said the attackers might have abandoned the bomb short of their intended target after encountering a police patrol.