Police searched 400 vehicles in bid to find deadly device
A dissident republican explosive device discovered in Co Armagh on Tuesday night was found attached to a lorry and bound for a ferry to Scotland, police said.
Police said anyone could have been killed or injured if the device exploded as it made its way from Armagh to Belfast docks.
After receiving information of a possible device police searched some 400 vehicles in a wide-ranging search operation before making the discovery.
The report of the potential device was first made on Friday, January 31 – the day the UK left the EU.
On Wednesday, police were criticised by Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie for not releasing more information about the bomb after businesses within Silverwood Industrial Estate in Lurgan were evacuated after the discovery and while the device was made safe.
Details of the find were not released until Wednesday afternoon but Detective Superintendent Sean Wright, from the PSNI Terrorism Investigation Unit, explained on Thursday that a search in Belfast docks on Friday occurred after police were told that an explosive device loaded on a lorry, was bound for Scotland.
However, after searching the docks area and working with a ferry company, Belfast harbour authorities and Police Scotland, they found nothing as the ferry sailed and arrived safely in Scotland.
On Monday police received a further report that the explosive device was attached to a lorry belonging to a named haulage company.
This more detailed information enabled police to conduct focused investigations with the haulage company, continued Detective Superintendent Wright.
Working throughout the evening of Monday, February 3, and Tuesday, February 4, police and the haulage company eliminated in the region of 400 vehicles in order to locate the explosive device.
The device was subsequently found attached to a heavy goods vehicle in the Silverwood Industrial Estate. That explosive device was made safe by ATO colleagues.