Remnants of an improvised explosive device which had detonated have been recovered from the scene of a security alert in Lurgan.
It was recovered along with another device which was not capable of detonating.
Police believe that a warning phone call to the Samaritans had been used to try and lure officers to the scene of the second device in a bid to murder them.
Superintendent David Moore said the viable device that detonated during the operation, which began on Saturday, was “significant and absolutely designed to kill”.
He said: “This alert initially began with a call to the Samaritans this morning that claimed a device which had been aimed at a police patrol during the early hours had failed to explode.
“A suspicious object was quickly located by responding officers and the area was evacuated. An exhaustive search was subsequently carried out, during which the second device detonated.
“It is my belief that the phone call and the first device were designed to lure police into the area to be targeted by the second device. This was a clear and unequivocal murder attempt on the policemen and women who serve the community in Lurgan.
“The professional, methodical and diligent way these same officers responded to this incident undoubtedly saved lives, their own and potentially those of local people who were placed in grave danger by the heinous criminals who planted this device.
“It is also disappointing that during this operation police officers were subjected to repeated attack with petrol bombs and bricks by a small and unrepresentative section of the community.
“That this should happen whilst police officers were already placing themselves at considerable risk in the interests of keeping local people safe, is deeply regrettable. I have also been heartened however by the support we have received from a much broader section of the local community and those who properly represent them.
“A full investigation is now underway and I implore anyone with any information that could help us identify these would-be murderers, to get in touch on 101 or through the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”
Justice Minister David Ford has condemned those behind the bomb attack in Lurgan.
He said: “Police officers attended a security alert in Lurgan in order to protect local residents. Whoever set this alert and the device which exploded had a clear intention to kill police officers.
“They showed absolutely no regard for local residents, who could have been killed or injured. I join with local community representatives in condemning their hopeless action.
“Anyone with information should pass it to the police or to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111. The sooner these criminals face justice the safer our community will be.”
Read more news:
Sign Up To Our Newsletter
Sign up to our newsletter for major breaking news stories as they happen – right to your inbox.