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Bomb threats, the Queen and Obama put Dublin on high alert

Hours before Queen Elizabeth II arrived in Dublin yesterday for the first visit by a reigning British monarch to the Irish Republic, the army there defused a pipe bomb discovered in a tote bag  in the luggage compartment of a bus heading for the capital, police officials said.

The bus was travelling from Ballina in the west of Ireland toward Dublin and the device was found in Maynooth, a university town 25km west of the capital. About 30 passengers had left the bus when it was stopped and searched, apparently after a tip by an informant.

The Irish police also found a sham device, harmless but meant to appear to be a bomb, at a tram station in North Dublin.

Detectives took away the fake bomb to check for fingerprint or DNA traces of the hoaxer.

Later, police responded to at least two more reports of suspicious packages in working-class districts of north Dublin, but no further bombs were confirmed.

Police said Irish Republican Army dissidents using a recognised codeword warned about the bus bomb, which was left in overhead luggage.

Several small Irish Republican Army splinter groups concentrated along the Irish border continue to plot gun and bomb attacks in the British territory of Northern Ireland next door in hopes of undermining the success of its 1998 peace accord, particularly its stable Catholic-Protestant government.

Ireland is mounting its biggest-ever security operation for the queen's four-day visit and the arrival of US President Barack Obama two days later. The combined security effort is estimated to cost as much as US$42.4 million (S$53 million), a large sum for a country in a deep economic slump.

Planned routes for the Queen to travel while in Dublin had been cleared of parked cars, and access to some areas was blocked. More than 5,000 manholes, culverts and drains were checked and sealed. Even the Dublin Zoo, which is close to where the Queen will stay, was to be closed for two days.

Police north and south of the Irish border arrested IRA dissidents, detaining some of them, and surveillance was high. Citizens were being subjected to random searches around Dublin and elsewhere.

On Monday, the British police also said they had received a credible bomb threat in central London on the eve of the queen's journey. Some areas of London were cordoned off, but no device was found, leading the police to assume that the coded message was a hoax meant to complicate the Queen's plans.

 
 
 
 
 

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