Bomb robot finds device in Derry cemetery ahead of Biden visit

Bomb disposal robots recovered a “suspicious package” from a Northern Ireland cemetery ahead of a visit from US President Joe Biden, police have said. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said officers have launched a public safety operation at the City Cemetery in Londonderry. Officers closed the cemetery on Tuesday morning after the device was discovered at 6.30am following an Easter Monday republican commemoration.

PSNI have placed cordons in the cemetery’s vicinity and evacuated residents from one home.

Two robots were deployed to examine the suspicious package and were seen moving within the scene.

While the area is now cordoned off, the cemetery is still accessible for burials.

One small funeral was held during the location’s closure.

Police said they found the device following an “un-notified Easter parade” ahead of the republican celebration at the scene on Monday, April 10.

The parade was started by masked men wearing “paramilitary-style” uniforms in Central Drive.

The men formed a colour party and carried a selection of Irish and republican flags as they made their way towards the City Cemetery.

Some masked youths at the scene hurled petrol bombs and fireworks at a police Land Rover, which drove off after catching fire.

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Chief Superintendent Nigel Goddard said parade participants took cover under umbrellas near the cemetery and burnt their clothing.

PSNI recovered the device from the same area, Supt Goddard added and said police understood the “level of concern and anger” surrounding the decision to cordon off the cemetery.

But he said officials had “absolutely no option” but to restrict the area.

He called out the people behind the package, branding the move “callous and provocative”.

He said: “A cemetery is where people pay their respects in memory of their loved ones.

“This callous and provocative move flies in the face of that. It is appalling.”

The discovery was made ahead of President Biden’s official visit to Belfast this week, with the US commander-in-chief due to arrive in the Northern Irish capital on Tuesday evening.

He will stay for one day and participate in several engagements – including a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – before leaving on Wednesday, April 12.

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