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MI5 hunt IRA arms cache

MI5 agents are hunting a deadly Real IRA arms cache on mainland Britain, the News of the World can reveal.
Security chiefs believe the terrorist stockpile includes a ROCKET LAUNCHER like the one used to fire a missile at Thames House, the MI6 secret service HQ, nine years ago.
They fear it also contains SEMTEX and other explosives. Only last week MI5 expressed “growing concern” that the Real IRA was planning to reactivate its mainland terror cell.
Their alert came after terrorists shot dead unarmed British soldiers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, last Saturday outside their barracks in Antrim.
And on Wednesday police officer Stephen Carroll, 48, was murdered in Craigavon, Co. Armagh, by another dissident splinter group, the Continuity IRA.
Meanwhile, fears grow that rebel groups opposed to the Irish peace plan are also planning to target top POLITICAL figures.
A senior police source told us: “We have reliable intelligence that dissidents are planning to kill a senior politician and that threat is very, very real.
“They are determined to break the peace process and believe that murdering a top politician would be as big a coup as their recent attacks.” Jeffrey Donaldson, a Junior Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly, confirmed: “We have heard that targeting or killing a politician is high on the agenda, it’s a very real threat.
“It’s important every effort is made to protect human life.”
He agreed that all politicians, including power-sharing Sinn Fein members like Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who support the peace process, are potential targets.
Senior Unionist figures like First Minister Peter Robinson and his DUP deputy Nigel Dodds are high on the hit-list.
So too would be firebrand former leader Ian Paisley. Visiting bigwigs like Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward would also be at risk.
Meanwhile, Whitehall intelligence sources believe the missing Russian-made rocket launcher, a hand-held RPG 22 capable of blasting a tank apart, poses a real threat on mainland.
Unlike the fortified MI6 building, few public offices have defences against such a powerful weapon.
Experts say the RPG was one of a batch of 20 hidden in Britain. It is designed to be fired just once and the barrel thrown away.
The launcher is so light it can be carried in a holdall or over the shoulder of a motorcycle pillion rider. It can be assembled in minutes and has a range up to 800ft.
It is still used by many former Warsaw Pact armies and can be bought on the black market for less than £100.
Our sources believe part of the explosives stockpile was used in a Real IRA car bomb which destroyed the front of the BBC’s Television Centre in 2001—but the remaining haul was never discovered.
A senior security source told us: “There has been growing chatter over recent months that the cache has been reopened and the cell reactivated. There’s growing concern.”
The Real IRA had two active service units operating in Britain in 2001, with two arms dumps holding enough explosives for 30 bombs and sophisticated detonators.
One of the units was broken up in the wake of the BBC bombing but the other was never found.
Yesterday Northern Irish detectives probing the barracks murders ARRESTED three men—one of whom is believed to be Colin Duffy, a high-profile, hardline Republican.
He is a leading figure in Eirigi, a republican group oppsed to Sinn Fein’s support for peace, and was seized in Lurgan, Co. Armagh.
Now 41, Duffy was jailed for life in 1955 for the murder of retired UDR member John Lyness but later acquitted.
Two years later he was accused of murdering two RUC police officers in Lurgan town centre—but the charges were later dropped.



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