British army experts defused a car bomb Wednesday that had been abandoned in a parking lot near a police station and busy hotel in Armagh, southwest of Belfast, police said.
The bomb was composed of several natural gas-packed cylinders attached to a detonator, and was discovered by accident when officers were summoned to the scene of a nearby home robbery, police said.
No group claimed responsibility. But police and politicians blamed Irish Republican Army dissidents who remain committed to the traditional IRA goal of abolishing Northern Ireland as a predominantly Protestant, British territory.
"There are those in our society who for some obscure reason wish to terrorize the entire community with their repugnant activity and redundant mind-set. The motive for this incident defies logic and rational understanding," police Superintendent Bob Moore said.
Gang members who described themselves as Irish republicans threatened an elderly woman Tuesday night in her Armagh home, then stole a shotgun and the keys to two cars outside her home. The bomb was placed in one car, while the gang used the other for a getaway and was later found in an alleyway, torched to destroy forensic evidence, police said.