British army experts have defused a 600-pound car bomb on the Northern Ireland border.

Police suspect it was the work of Irish Republican Army die-hards.

Two barrels of explosives attached to a detonator and a timer were found in a van parked near a predominantly Catholic town that's a hub of IRA activity.

The town's police commander says the bomb would have "caused devastation" if it had exploded, and would have likely killed anyone within 50 yards.

He says the attackers might have abandoned the bomb short of their intended target after encountering a police patrol.

The bomb was defused two days after a passing motorist told police about the abandoned van. Fearing a potential ambush, police and soldiers took more than a day to search the surrounding area before moving in.

Several IRA splinter groups continue to mount attacks in Northern Ireland in hope of undermining key accomplishments of its peace process. The major IRA faction renounced violence and disarmed in 2005.