Armed raiders seize back counterfeit goods

Real IRA link suspected in raid where rockets fired

Irish police suspect that dissident Republicans are responsible for an armed hold-up during which counterfeit goods were seized back.

Sources within the police force, quoted in The Irish Times, said that dissident republicans, probably the "Real IRA", were behind the raid and that the goods would likely end up being sold at open-air markets in the run up to Christmas.

The hold-up lends weight to the theory that the Real IRA, which was behind the Omagh bomb that killed 29 people two years ago, is using computer piracy to raise funds.

In this case a haul of computer and PlayStation games, videos and DVDs, worth an estimated £100 000, was found in a mobile shop in Louth, close to the border with the north, during a Customs and Excise raid that targeted a suspected diesel laundering operation. Customs tuned the haul over to Irish police who have power to seize counterfeit goods.

The Irish Times reports that less than six hours after the goods were seized, the police were subject to a terrifying hold-up by a gang of between six and seven armed men dressed in camouflage clothing and wearing balaclavas.

They blocked the road of either side of the van containing the goods as well as access to the diesel-laundering plant. The gang was carrying a handgun, shotgun and an assortment of iron bars.

Moments before the gang approached two rockets were fired into the air from nearby.

No resistance was offered to the gang, who escaped with the goods on a road leading to south Armagh in the north.

The brazen hold-up took place only a day after President Clinton appealed to an audience in the nearby town of Dundalk to make peace. ®

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