The find includes 28 pipe bombs, one under-vehicle improvised explosive device, component parts for use in coffee-jar bombs, two improvised grenades, component parts for an improvised grenade launcher and an improvised smoke grenade.
Shortly before 4.10pm on Thursday police received a report that, during dredging work in the river, a sports holdall-type bag had been found in the water, which contained a number of suspicious items.
The find sparked a security alert, with the Queen Elizabeth Bridge and a nearby footbridge closed to allow Army Technical Officers to attend the scene and examine the items.
Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said the items discovered were “potentially lethal weapons” designed to kill or seriously injure their targets “which include police officers and members of the public”.
“History tells us that they would be used recklessly and indiscriminately, with little regard as to who would be the final victim,” he said.
“Thankfully, they did not reach their destinations or targets, and have been taken out of circulation.
Detective Chief Superintendent Murray said that police were working to establish who dumped the munitions in the river and when and why they were placed there.
“It is unclear at this time how old these munitions are, and how they came to be in the water,” he said.
According to the detective chief superintendent, the munitions “have the appearance of having been dumped by someone who panicked, perhaps as a result of police activity, but when that may have happened is not yet clear. The devices will now be subject to extensive forensic examination”.
“Clearly, those responsible for dumping these extremely dangerous munitions, and in the manner in which they did, demonstrated a blatant disregard for the safety of the community,” he said.
“I want to thank those who made the discovery yesterday, and for reporting it to us.”
He appealed for anyone with information about the munitions find to come forward.
“I want to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone who has information which could help our investigation to pick up the phone and tell us,” Detective Chief Superintendent Murray said.
“Please take a moment to think that the intended targets and destinations for these munitions could be someone you know, or where you live.
“I believe there are people in the community who will hold vital pieces of information that could assist us, and I would urge them or anyone with information to call us on 101, or call Crimestoppers, which is anonymous, on 0800 555 111.”
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Gareth Cross for the original story