VIOLENT dissident republicans who orchestrated serious rioting in Lurgan last night where police came under gun fire and petrol bomb attacks are “no better than Daesh terror group”, says a senior police officer.
The rioting has been linked to a security alert which has caused a travel nightmare for rail users as police probeD a second bomb alert in 24 hours in Co Armagh.
Tonight, police say the security alert in Lake Street has now ended.
Two suspicious objects have been examined and both have been declared as hoaxes by Army Technical Officers.
All evacuated residents are now able to return to their homes.
The Belfast to Dublin railway line has now reopened.
On Sunday night officers came under sustained attack for a number of hours with more than 100 petrol bombs thrown at police cordons in the area of the Lake Street alert.
A gunman emerged at one stage from the crowd and fired at least one shot at police lines..
Twenty five paint bombs, bricks and other masonry were thrown by a large and aggressive crowd who gathered at around 9pm and remained until the early hours of the morning.
No police officers or members of the public were injured however a number of police vehicles were damaged.
Helicopter air support, specially trained riot police from other parts of Northern Ireland and dog teams had to be brought to deal with the trouble.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today Superintendent David Moore said: “The people that are behind this have no ideology, they have nothing to offer, in many respects they can be compared to Daesh (ISIS), they have got little to offer but destruction in their own communities.
“We are very lucky not only to be dealing with the loss of life or serious injury to a police officer but we could be dealing with any member of the community in the same position this morning.
“The work of dissident republicans is evident here, not in any way organised, because it is the easiest thing to drop something on a railway line and have someone drunk batter on the window of a crossing guard’s booth.
“It is the easiest thing to make phone calls…to try their best to confuse the police response.
“Eventually we deployed in a very careful, tactically sound way and what did we find? Five hours of sustained violence waiting for us.”
A number of homes were evacuated today as the alert continues.
Supt Moore added: “A methodical clearance operation to dispose of the device will continue today and this is likely to cause disruption not only to rail travel in the area but also to the daily lives of people living close by.
“It will be necessary to evacuate a number of homes and we have already been in touch with most of the householders who will be affected by this operation.
“I am grateful for the cooperation and support of the broader community in Lurgan and I would ask that those who engaged in last night’s despicable disorder, seriously consider the consequences of their actions and the impact they are having not only on their community police officers but also on their community itself.”
Sinn Fein’s Catherine Seeley condemned those who opened fire at the PSNI during disturbances in Lurgan and said it was “clearly an effort to murder police officers”.
She said: “Those responsible for this attack and organising and co-ordinating this rioting and disruption nothing to offer the community.
“Local people and commuters are fed up with these incidents which serve absolutely no purpose except to disrupt lives and services.
“Recently this activity has disrupted people on their way to work, when preparing their children for school, local doctors’ services have been affected, as has Home Help and other medical services in the area.
“Those behind these attacks have no political vision or strategy.
“It is completely and utterly futile.
“It is important to point out that this does not reflect the views of the community of the north Lurgan area most of whom, I am sure, would strongly agree that those responsible should stop immediately and allow the community to live in peace.”