DUBLIN -- British Army experts defused a car bomb Saturday that had been abandoned on a rural roadside in Northern Ireland, a threat that is raising concerns about the region’s hosting of the G8 summit later this year.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said the car contained a beer keg packed with about 60 kilograms (130 pounds) of homemade explosives. Metal kegs often have been used in the construction of Irish Republican Army-style bombs because they are easily portable and produce showers of shrapnel when detonated.
Police District Commander Pauline Shields said detectives suspected that an IRA splinter group planned to blast the nearby police base in the County Fermanagh border town of Lisnaskea, but may have been forced by a police patrol to abandon the bomb short of its target.
It would be the third foiled IRA attack on police installations this month, following two attempted mortar attacks on police stations in Northern Ireland’s two major cities, Londonderry on March 3 and Belfast on March 15.
The car bomb was left before dawn Friday on a bridge near the Fermanagh village of Derrylin 4 miles (6 kilometers) from Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland.
Police shut the main road connecting the Fermanagh town of Enniskillen with the Irish capital, Dublin, and evacuated several homes for two days as bomb disposal technicians worked slowly in heavy snow and mindful that the bomb could have been placed to lure soldiers and police into the area for an ambush.
Troublingly for Northern Ireland’s security and political chiefs, the bomb was left just 13 miles (18 kilometers) down the road from the planned venue for the June 17-18 summit of the world’s Group of Eight leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who also is to attend the summit, picked Northern Ireland as host to showcase the British region’s broadly successful peace process -- a triumph undercut, in part, by the unrelenting violence of IRA die-hards rooted in the province’s Irish Catholic minority.
"Those responsible (for the car bomb) have neither mandate nor legitimacy. They are totally out of touch with what the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland want," said Cameron’s senior official in Northern Ireland, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.
The long-dominant IRA faction, the Provisionals, killed nearly 1,800 people during a failed 1970-1997 campaign to force Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom. That group formally disarmed and renounced violence in 2005. But new, smaller IRA factions that include former Provisionals are trying to fill the militant vacuum with occasional bombings and shootings.