PSNI search six blocks in New Lodge, arrest man, seize ammunition
The PSNI carried out a major search operation in the New Lodge flats in north Belfast today.
It is reported that searches took place in six blocks of flats with a large volume of police officers and PSNI Land Rovers in the area, as well as the police helicopter.
Police said a number of items, including a quantity of suspected ammunition seized during the operation, were removed for forensic examination.
A 55-year-old man was arrested and questioned on suspicion of possession of ammunition in suspicious circumstances. He was later released on police bail pending further enquiries.
“Police would wish to take this opportunity to thank the local community for their patience and understanding during today’s protracted search operation,” a PSNI spokesman said.
Police said the searches were part of “an ongoing investigation into serious crime” but declined to give any further details.
A large mural at one of the flats stated: “Maghery republican POWs, unbowed, unbroken, 32 CSM [County Sovereignty Movement].
According to reports, there were some 30 PSNI units, ammunition technical officers (ATO), sniffer dogs and a police helicopter involved in the operation and six blocks of flats were searched.
One source said: “I saw at least three tower blocks being searched. The number of police Land Rovers would easily have been in double figures.”
Unusually officers - whether police or forensic officers - were wearing white jumpsuits but on this occasion with helmets, flak jackets, and sidearms.
Officers in regular uniforms and automatic rifles patrolled on the streets outside while the searches went on.
The search of each block took 20-30 minutes and seemed to focus only on the ground floor, with officers seen pushing up ceiling tiles inside the building as part of their investigation.
One police officer in ordinary uniform and without gloves, was seen leaving the flats with large blue bolt cutters.
Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee said the community is safer following the discovery of ammunition after what he said was an extensive search.
“I welcome the fact that ammunition which was found following an extensive search in the New Lodge area has been removed from our streets,” he said.
“There can be no place in our society for anyone who would bring guns onto our streets.”
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