Major Operation Targets PSNI Officer's Killers

Five men have been arrested and a major search operation has taken place across the North today over the murder of police officer Ronan Kerr.

Police investigating the deadly bomb blast in Omagh almost four months ago have mounted a major search and arrest operation.

The operation is part of the investigation into Constable Kerr's murder on 2 April and associated incidents including the seizure of munitions in Coalisland on 5 April.

Involving up to 200 officers and staff, the operation has been led by detectives from Serious Crime Branch and includes Crime Scene Investigators, Tactical Support Groups, District police and a range of additional specialist resources.

Seven searches were being conducted today at a number of locations including Toome, Coalisland, Bellaghy and Ballyronan.

It was revealed this morning that a number of men have been arrested, including a 22-year-old in Coalisland, a 27-year-old and a 46-year-old man in Toome as well as a 37-year-old in Bellaghy and a 33-year-old in Ballyronan.

Before Tuesday's operation, a total of 33 searches had been conducted in connection with the murder in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.

Al five suspects were arrested under the Terrorism Act and have been taken to the Serious Crime Suite at Antrim police station for questioning.

A number of items have been seized at the search locations including clothing, mobile phones, computers and vehicles. They have been removed for forensic examination and analysis.

Constable Kerr, who joined the police in May 2010, is the second officer to have been killed since the Royal Ulster Constabulary became the PSNI in 2001 with dissident republicans blamed for both the murders.

Probe Progressing

The officer in charge of the murder investigation, Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, said: "Today's activities are the latest stage in the ongoing investigation into Ronan's murder and related incidents.

"Our determination to pursue every possible line of enquiry remains undiminished. The investigation is progressing and police have been encouraged by the support and assistance, which has been forthcoming from across the community.

"During this search stage, we would ask for people's continued patience and co-operation as we work to complete our enquiries to maximum effect, as expeditiously as possible and with the minimum amount of disruption to community life," he said, noting that information remains important.

A PSNI statement emphasised that the £50,000 reward remains on offer from the independent charity Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Ronan's murder.

"The Crimestoppers number is 0800 555 111. Alternatively, members of the public can contact detectives in Omagh on 0845 600 8000," the PSNI statement concluded.


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