Northern Ireland police find bomb near courthouse

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A "substantial", viable bomb was planted near a Northern Ireland courthouse on Monday, police said.

About 50 kilogrammes (some 100 pounds) of homemade explosives were packed into a beer keg and left in a stolen car in a car park near the courthouse in Londonderry, in the northwest of the province.

"A number of controlled explosions have been carried out and we can now confirm there is a viable device of substantial size," a police spokesman said.

The alert was raised on Sunday evening after a telephone warning, which sparked the evacuation of dozens of elderly residents from a sheltered housing development nearby.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin blamed dissident republicans opposed to the peace process, telling reporters: "Unfortunately there is no such thing as complete security.

"The difficulty we face is that while we have a number of people, albeit they are small in number, who are willing to set their faces against the wishes of the majority, unfortunately we will see some acts like this occur again."

Northern Ireland was blighted by three decades of sectarian violence from the 1970s until the late 1990s, pitting pro-British Protestant communities against Catholic communities who wanted to join the Republic of Ireland.

It largely ended with the 1998 Good Friday peace accords, but sporadic violence continues. Dissident republican groups have been particularly active in Londonderry, Northern Ireland's second-biggest city.

© 2011 AFP

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