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Northern Irish police defuse car bomb near G8 venue

BELFAST (Reuters) - Northern Irish police defused a bomb in a car on Saturday close to where G8 leaders will meet at a summit in June and said that the device was likely to have been intended for a police station nearby.

Army bomb disposal experts defused the device after a security operation that lasted almost 36 hours in the county Fermanagh town of Enniskillen. The Group of Eight leaders meet just outside the town in three months' time.

A senior Northern Irish officer said police believed the bomb was en route to a police station in a town nearby and would have killed or injured people if it had not been intercepted.

"Once again our community has been disrupted and the lives of residents put at risk by an element intent on causing loss of life and disruption," District Commander Pauline Shields said in a statement.

"The people responsible for this have no regard for the lives of anyone in our community. It is fortunate that no-one was killed or seriously injured as a result of this reckless act."

A 1998 peace deal largely ended more than three decades of violence in the British-controlled province between mainly Catholic Irish nationalists seeking union with Ireland and predominantly Protestant unionists who want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

However militant nationalists, who include former operatives who split from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) after it declared a ceasefire, still stage sporadic gun and bomb attacks and have targeted security forces in particular.

An attempt to fire mortar bombs at a police station was foiled earlier this month in what would have been the first attack of its kind in the United Kingdom since the peace deal ended the IRA's campaign of violence.

(Reporting by Ian Graham; Editing by Padraic Halpin and Michael Roddy)

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