Deadly mortars used before by group known as the ‘IRA'

An EFP discovered at the weekend at Capanagh Forest near Larne
Analysis by Connla Young

DEADLY EFP (explosively formed projectile) mortars have been used before by the group known as the ‘IRA’.

Believed to have been developed in Iran, the homemade weapon was regularly used in Iraq.

Easy to conceal and fire by command wire, the weapon has been adapted by the ‘IRA’ and is now a part of its arsenal.

Although it is not known what group the recovered equipment belonged to, the finger is being pointed at hardline republicans rather than loyalists.

Capable of piercing armour over a long distance, EFPs in the past have contained high powered Semtex explosives.

It is considered by some as the modern version of the horizontal mortar - known to republicans as a 'doodle bug' - which was used to deadly affect by the Provisionals to kill British soldiers and RUC officers.

The weapon was first used by the ‘IRA’ in March 2014 when a PSNI Land Rover was targeted as it travelled along the Falls Road close to the city cemetery.

At the time the ‘IRA’ said the new devices were part of an "already sophisticated weapons inventory".

Later that year a PSNI car was struck by an EFP as it travelled through the Creggan estate in Derry.

No-one was hurt in either incident.

Unexploded EFP’s have also been recovered by the security forces across the north in the past.

The impact the latest find will have on the group responsible is difficult to gauge.

Police have not said if the explosives found included Semtex or if the recovered EFP contained that explosive.

A large amount of bomb parts, including timers and command wire, are understood to have been found along with what is believed to be two military grade Claymore anti-personnel mines.

Whether they were obtained from the Provisional IRA or recently sourced by the group responsible is not known.

The loss of commercial grade equipment will be more keenly felt than the loss of home made ordinance which can be easily engineered and replaced.

While the location of the arms find near the mainly unionist area may raise some eyebrows, the remoteness of Capanagh Forest makes it an ideal location for storage.

The PSNI has said that this discovery at Capanagh Forest, as well as bomb parts in nearby Carnfunnock Country Park in March, came after reports from members of the public out walking.

However, most observers will also consider the possibility that the information locating the dump came from other sources.

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