A parcel bomb found at an Irish postal depot appears identical to a series of devices sent to Great Britain, police in Ireland have said.
Garda called Army bomb disposal experts to the postal sorting office in Limerick on Friday morning after the suspicious package was discovered.
The Defence Forces later confirmed a “viable improvised explosive device” had been found contained in a plastic envelope.
Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said a stamp on the package found in the An Post depot on Dock Road in the city was similar to those used on letter bombs sent to the UK earlier this month.
He added: “This is a despicable act.
“The sending of incendiary devices like this is totally unacceptable. I hope the people responsible are brought to justice.”
The building was evacuated during the security alert.
A spokesman for the Defence Forces said: “A viable improvised explosive device contained in a plastic envelope was identified and made safe. The device was then handed over to An Garda Siochana for further investigation.”
A group calling itself the IRA has claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to major transport hubs in London and the University of Glasgow.
The organisation, known to police as the New IRA, claimed one parcel addressed to a British Army recruitment officer may not have been discovered yet.
The group said it posted five devices to addresses in Britain, however only four had been discovered at the time the claim of responsibility was sent to a Belfast newsroom.
Mr Flanagan said the item found in Limerick could be the fifth.
“We have reason to believe this could be the case,” he said.
The packages that arrived at Waterloo railway station and offices at Heathrow and London City airports on March 5 and 6 were posted with Irish stamps and had Dublin as the return address, prompting Irish police to join the investigation.
The stamps appeared to be those issued by the Irish postal service for Valentine’s Day 2018, featuring a heart motif and the words “Love Eire N”.
The senders’ addresses were given as Dublin, with two having added coach operator Bus Eireann.
Police Scotland said a controlled explosion was carried out as a precaution on a suspicious package found in the mailroom at Glasgow University, after several buildings had been evacuated.
All packages were A4-sized white postal bags containing yellow Jiffy bags and appeared capable of igniting a small fire when opened.
No-one was injured in any of the incidents in Britain.
On Friday, a Garda spokesman said: “This parcel appears to be identical to parcels – pending closer forensic and ballistic examination – discovered earlier this month in London and Glasgow.
“An Garda Siochana continue to liaise with the UK authorities in relation to these investigations.”
Irish premier Leo Varadkar condemned the actions of those involved.
Speaking in Brussels, he said: “First of all I condemn the actions of whoever did this without reservation, no matter what is happening in politics at the moment, it’s no justification for violence and certainly no justification for potentially exposing civilians to injury or potentially death.
“The Minister for Justice was in touch with me this morning to inform me of what they know so far, and they did know there were five letter bombs sent a few weeks ago and the fifth one has turned up at a postal centre in Limerick so we believe it’s one of the same batch and this is the fifth one now.”