Police in Northern Ireland say an object found on the Friary Road in Armagh early this morning was a viable device.

British army bomb experts made safe the device.

The security alert has now ended and the road has been re-opened.

PSNI District Commander Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson said police had been alerted to the device by a member of the local community late last night.

The road was immediately closed and British army technical officers were called to the scene. A number of nearby houses were also evacuated.

'The device was then made safe by the army, who have since confirmed that this was a viable explosive device capable of causing serious injury or indeed death,' he said.

He continued: 'I have no doubt the aim was to kill police officers engaged in providing a community service to the area.

'The actions of both our local police officers and of the army technical officers are in stark contrast to that of the reckless criminal terrorists who abandoned this device close to private homes placing the lives of those living in this area at risk.

'Police are committed to providing the Armagh community with the level of policing it deserves and requires, and we ask everyone in the community to work together with us, to create an environment in which neighbourhood policing can properly flourish.

'Those who operate under various flags of convenience are simply terrorists and criminals who wish to drag everyone back to the dark days of the past by using violence as a so-called political tool. They have nothing to offer anyone living in this community,' he said.

Chief Superintendent Robinson called on all members of the public to give police the information they needed to bring those responsible to justice.

In particular the PSNI say they would like to hear from anyone who observed any suspicious activity in the Friary Road area over the past few days.