Policehave described the terrorist hide which was uncovered at outside Larne at the weekend as one of the most significant seizures of munitions in recent years in Northern Ireland.
Two members of the public were walking in Capanagh Wood on Saturday evening when they stumbled across the cache of bomb-making parts.
Officers located three barrels hidden in purpose-built holes, which held a range of deadly items including an Explosively Formed Projectile (EFP); two Claymore anti-personnel mines; several pipe bombs; quantities of explosives and ammunition; command wire; parts to construct a substantial number of explosive devices; and magazines and ammunition for an assault rifle.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said: “A number of these devices were ready to be deployed. This seizure has undoubtedly saved lives.”
Police are now working to establish if the weekend’s sinister discovery is linked to another terrorist hide found at nearby Carnfunnock Country Park in March, and Detective Supt Geddes confirmed there are links in terms of the “general location and the manner and method of storage and packaging of these munitions”.
He added: “The fact that an Explosively Formed Projectile was recovered which has an armour-piercing capability means that one of our main lines of enquiry will focus on dissident republican terrorists. All these components will now be subjected to rigorous forensic testing in an effort to provide additional lines of enquiry.
“We are indebted to the two members of the public who spotted suspicious objects on Saturday. Their vigilance prompted the recovery of this significant and substantial haul of munitions and has undoubtedly contributed to lives being saved.
“The threat level in Northern Ireland from dissident republican groups remains severe, which means an attack is highly likely. It is vital that people remain vigilant, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. We will continue to work to keep people safe and would ask anyone with information about suspicious activity or objects anywhere in Northern Ireland to contact police. Once again, this seizure has demonstrated that when people provide us with information, we will act on it to ensure everyone in our community is kept safe.”
Anyone with information can contact police on the non-emergency police number 101 or if someone does not wish to provide their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.