CHILDREN at a playgroup were evacuated following the discovery of a viable explosive device in Co. Armagh today.
The device and a firearm were found during searches in the Tarry Drive area of Lurgan.
A local Sinn Féin councilor described the situation as ‘madness’.
The playgroup and several residents were evacuated during the searches, while a number of areas were cordoned off.
The device was examined by Ammunition Technical Officers and found to be viable and capable of substantial harm.
It was made safe before being removed for forensic examination along with the firearm.
Superintendent David Moore said: “There is no doubt that this device was intended to harm police officers, however its placement and the manner in which it was left undoubtedly mean that had it detonated, it would almost certainly have caused death or serious injury.”
He added: “Had this device not been found when it had, there is no telling what we may have been dealing with.
“Young children would have been walking right past this location and people residing peacefully in this area were put in danger.”
Sinn Féin Councillor for Lurgan, Keith Haughian, criticised those responsible.
“This incident showed complete disregard to the local community and caused disruption to residents,” said Cllr Haughian.
“The placing of such a potentially lethal device in such close proximity to the nearby play park which is so extensively used by children and families in the area is madness.
"Those responsible have nothing to offer the community and they should leave the stage immediately.
"I would urge anyone with information on this attack to bring it forward to the PSNI.”
An investigation led by detectives from PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch is underway.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.