Russian military grenades that may have been stolen from the Ukraine frontline ended up in the hands of Northern Irish terrorists and were being stored near a children’s playground, according to a report citing police officers.
Counter-terrorism police in Northern Ireland reportedly seized a huge batch of weapons including plastic explosives and grenades in Londonderry following major raids last Thursday.
Two hand grenades, a handgun, over 50 rounds of ammunition and over a kilogram of plastic explosives were reportedly found in the bust.
Two men and a woman were arrested during the operation. It was launched as intelligence indicated the New IRA had acquired this weaponry and may have been plotting an attack against law enforcement officers.
Mark McEwan, the assistant chief constable, said: “These items are military grade, and we believe the intention was to mount attacks in an attempt to kill police officers.”
Mr McEwan said on Friday: “Not only was the intention here to kill and maim, but there is a total disregard for the wider community.
“These items were being stored in a residential area, in close proximity to a children’s play area.
“Be assured that the success of this recovery demonstrates our dedication to pursuing these groups, the professionalism of our teams and our dogged determination to bring these people before the courts.”
More than £2,000 in cash was also found in the bust. Cops also recovered a machine gun pistol and six explosive devices in a second series of raids on Friday.
Riots broke out following the spate of arrests and up to 16 officers were later injured in a wave of violent unrest which dragged on for several days.
Chaos erupted as thugs lobbed petrol bombs at Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Land Rovers.
The grenades discovered on Thursday were reportedly a newer type used by the Russian army, police sources told The Belfast Telegraph.
Weapons from Vladimir Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine have reportedly been falling into the hands of criminal and paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland more often, the sources said.
Around 20,000 mercenaries from across the globe descended on Ukraine to help Kyiv fend off Putin’s men. The amount of stolen weaponry has ramped up as vast numbers of so-called soldiers-for-hire fled the battlefield.
The New IRA is a branch of the republican movement that wants Northern Ireland to break away from the UK and reunite with the Republic of Ireland.
The terror group has reignited the traumatic memories hanging over the nation’s head following the Troubles.
Around three decades of violence saw 302 police killed before the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 reduced the terror threat and managed to achieve a greater level of peace.
The Provisional IRA was the largest and most influential Republican paramilitary group during those violent years but cooled down once peace deals and ceasefires were agreed.
The New IRA later formed in opposition to these moves and has committed to a violent campaign to achieve its goal of a united Ireland.
Back in February, the group claimed responsibility for the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell in Omagh, a town about 60 miles west of Belfast.
Caldwell, who spearheaded a flurry of murder investigations for the Northern Irish police force, was shot by two masked men while coaching a children’s football game.