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Police thwart mortar bomb attack
Four mortar bombs were found when police thwarted a major attack by dissident republicans in Londonderry,
They were discovered in the back of a van which had a section of its roof cut back as part of plans to bomb a police station in the city, a senior officer confirmed.
Three men, all in their 30s, were arrested - two at the scene. One was detained in searches afterwards. It is understood one of the men had been on a motorcycle following the van when police intercepted it near the city centre on Sunday night,.
More than 100 homes had to be evacuated in the Brandywell area.
Police commander Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargan said he believed terrorists were just about to launch the attack, probably on one of the Police Service of Northern Ireland stations in Derry, this year's UK City of Culture.
East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell claimed: "We were 10 minutes away from a disaster. That is how close we were to a really bad night in Londonderry. The mortars were ready to be fired. There could have been dozens of people killed."
Security chiefs were obviously working on good intelligence and had mounted a surveillance operation to foil the attack, he said.
Raymond McCartney, a Sinn Fein member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said: "The overwhelming majority of people in Derry will be relieved these weapons are off the streets. There is no place for these people who call themselves dissident republicans in the 21st century."
Mr Cargan said the van had been stopped in Letterkenny Road and four live mortar bombs found.
He said: "They were destined for a police station in the Derry. It was a reckless attack. They were prepared to drive through a built-up area of the city to carry out this attack and cause mass fatalities."