Live mortars found in Derry security alert

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Police have confirmed the discovery of four live mortars as the security alert that forced hundreds out of their homes in Derry continues this morning.

A PSNI spokeswoman says the live mortars were discovered in a van on the Letterkenny Road last night.

“Three men were arrested and are currently being questioned by police at Antrim Serious Crime Suite,” she said.

It is understood the van had part of its roof cut away.

More than 100 homes had to be evacuated when the police moved in on the

vehicle close to the junction of Letterkenny Road and Foyle Road.

Several people who had to leave their homes on Sunday night were elderly and

a security operation is still ongoing.

Roads in the area remain closed.

SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey praised the work of the PSNI.

“I welcome the sterling efforts of the PSNI to seize four live mortar bombs which were primed and ready to go. If it wasn’t for the swift actions of police officers then we could be waking up to devastating news.

“The fact that the van’s roof had been cut back shows that there was real intent to use these devices to cause serious injury or death.

“I am dismayed that dissident republicans continue to pursue activity which shows a ruthless disregard for human life. Any threat to those people who work to uphold the rule of law is totally abhorrent.

“This special year for Derry cannot be overshadowed by the reckless efforts of a delusional minority. People here deserve to live in a society free from violence and the threat of violence.”

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin said the incident had left many residents distressed.

“Whilst the events around Sunday night’s incident are still emerging ,what is clear is that hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes and it caused wide spread disruption on several of the main arterial routes into our city centre.

“It was a very cold night and it was particularly distressing for many of the elderly people who had to leave their homes.

“We were with residents who were forced to go to Brooke Park Leisure Centre to seek refuge. I would like to commend the council staff there, City Centre manager Jim Roddy, Sean Collins CRJ and community workers for their help throughout the night ,right up until after 2am on Monday morning.

“They worked collectively to ensure that all the residents affected got help from relatives or got them fixed up with emergency accommodation,” she said.