Skip to main content

Roadside bomb explodes in Northern Ireland

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Police believe bomb was a lure
  • No injuries reported
  • Shots fired at officers across border in Republic of Ireland
  • Five detained on suspicion of transporting explosives across border

(CNN) -- Police in Northern Ireland said Saturday that they suspect a roadside bomb that exploded in a border county was a lure, designed to draw them into the area.

District Commander Chief Alaqsdair Robinson said in a statement that the explosion on a road leading to the village of Newtownhamilton caused significant damage to both the road and a nearby bridge.

There were no reports of injuries, but the surrounding area was closed and police were asking people to stay away.

Robinson said he believes that police officers were the target, and that the bomb was placed in the area in an attempt to injure or kill them.

Northern Ireland police said the explosion occurred before 5:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. ET) in County Armagh, near Newtownhamilton. The town saw some violence in the struggle between Catholics and Protestants during the years of conflict known as "The Troubles." And last April, three people were injured in an explosion outside a police station there.

Meanwhile, in the Republic of Ireland's County Louth (which borders County Armagh), shots were fired at officers, according to Northern Ireland Policing Board member Basil McCrey.

McCrey also told CNN that police in County Louth stopped a car on suspicion of transporting explosives across the border from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland. Five people were detained.

McCrey said another car successfully made it over the border. He believes the incidents are related.

The five people detained by police are still being held for questioning in the Republic of Ireland. They can be held up to 72 hours without charges.

The incidents come ahead of "Orangeman's Day" on Monday. The holiday -- also called "The Twelfth" -- is celebrated by Protestants in Northern Ireland to commemorate the Battle of Boyne in 1690. Because of the sectarian nature of the holiday, celebrations have sometimes been marred by violence in the past.

Journalist Peter Taggart contributed to this story.