Derry five minutes away from 'major outrage'

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Londonderry was "within five or ten minutes of a major outrage" following the discovery of four live mortar bombs, a DUP MLA told the assembly on 4 March 2013.

The bombs which were "primed and ready to go" were intercepted by police on 3 March.

They were found in a van which had its roof cut back to allow the mortars to be fired. Police believe the target was a Londonderry police station.

Three men in their 30s were arrested following the overnight operation in Derry which police had linked to dissident republicans.

Gregory Campbell, who tabled the matter for debate, said mortar bombs were "notoriously unreliable".

He referred to an IRA mortar attack on Newry police station in 1985 when nine officers were murdered.

It was the RUC's biggest single loss of the Troubles.

Justice Minister David Ford said the incident had posed a "very major threat" to life to police officers but also against civilians in heavily populated areas of Derry.

It is the first time dissidents had attempted this type of mortar attack.

About 100 families had to leave their homes at Letterkenny Road in the overnight alert.

The Assembly also gave its approval to a legislative consent motion seeking a transfer of the Office of Fair Trading's Consumer Advice Scheme function.

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