A pipe bomb was discovered on a golf course in Co Tyrone.
The device, found near the Irish border in Strabane, was made safe and police believe the intention was to attack officers after drawing them into the area.
PSNI chief inspector Andy Lemon said it could have caused death or serious injury.
He said: “This device comprised nuts and bolts packed with explosives into a pipe. While police may have been the intended target, golfers, ground staff or members of the community passing by could have been killed or maimed.”
The security operation followed information received by police that a device had been left in the Ballycolman Road area.
The senior officer added: “This bears the hallmarks of an attempt to draw police into the area. But this was an attack on the community as much as on the police.
“I believe that the vast majority of people in Strabane do not want this type of incident and I would call on them to give us their assistance in bringing those behind it to justice.”