Police Arrest Seven After Discovering Explosives in Farm
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Seven suspected terrorists were arrested after police and troops discovered 11/2 tons of explosives hidden on a farm 35 miles west of Belfast, police said today.
A press officer at Belfast police headquarters, who declined to be identified in accordance with British practice, said the cache was one of the biggest hauls ever made in Northern Ireland. The farm is located near Dungannon in County Tyronne.
He said the explosives were discovered Thursday night during a security sweep of County Tyrone and neighboring County Londonderry by police and troops. He said the sweep has been going on for the last two weeks and was directed against Irish Republican Army guerrillas in the British-ruled province.
The police force also issued a statement Thursday warning security forces and civilians to be on guard against a possible increase in terrorist activity ahead of local council elections to be held next month.
In previous years, terrorists have often stepped up gun and bomb attacks in the run-up to elections in the province, where at least 2,433 people died since sectarian and political violence flared 16 years ago.
The mainly Roman Catholic IRA is fighting to drive the British from Northern Ireland. It wants to unite the predominantly Protestant province with the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish Republic under socialist rule after overturning the political establishment in Dublin.
The threat of terrorist attacks has led to cancellation of plans to hold the women’s world squash championships in Northern Ireland in August and September.
An organiser, Pru Hamilton, said a threat by the Irish National Liberation Army to attack sportsmen and women from the British mainland and abroad if they came to Northern Ireland had frightened off so many competitors that it was futile to let the championships continue.
The INLA is a Marxist offshoot of the IRA.
The competition is to be switched to a new venue across the border in the Irish Republic but details have not been finalised.
It is the latest in a series of sports cancellations following an INLA bombing shortly after a World Cup soccer match in Belfast between Northern Ireland and England on Feb. 27. Nobody was hurt but the INLA said in future it would bomb to kill visiting sports teams.
Organisers of track and field, lawn bowls, junior soccer, field hockey, wrestling and badminton competitions have all cancelled visits to Northern Ireland following the INLA threat.