Dublin: British Army experts defused a 300-pound bomb left by Irish Republican Army dissidents in a van outside the police station in a Northern Ireland border village on Friday, police said.
IRA dissidents, opposed to Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord and the Catholic-Protestant government it spawned, have planted a string of car bombs in the British territory since January. Most have failed to detonate, and none has caused any serious injuries.
The latest threat in the predominantly Catholic village of Aughnacloy, midway between Dublin and Belfast, forced authorities to evacuate about 350 residents overnight and close the local school.
Police Superintendent Brian Kee said his officers still were evacuating locals to church and community halls when a 60-minute advance warning, telephoned to a Belfast newspaper using the dissidents' confidential code word, expired.
"An hour sounds like a long time, but when you have to evacuate 350 people it's a very short period of time. We were still evacuating people when the hour was up," Kee said.
"If the bomb had detonated it would have caused widespread devastation in the village and it's very likely that lives would have been lost," he added.