Discovery of mortars forces closure of SR-163 in Mission Valley

SR 163, near I-8, Friars Road
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SAN DIEGO – Discovery of several mortars, on a weekend when the federal government is warning police about terrorism, forced the closure of Route 163 in Mission Valley for nearly two hours Saturday.

The freeway was closed at about 1:30 p.m., between University Avenue on the south and Friars Road on the north, a one-mile stretch of freeway that includes the Interstate 8 interchange in Mission Valley. It was re-opened to traffic at 3:17 p.m., fire dispatchers said.

Several mortars — possibly-explosive metallic shells — were found on the freeway, but no details about how they appeared there were released. A San Diego Fire-Rescue bomb squad was called out.

It is not unusual for old mortar casings to appear in San Diego, as the heavy metal projectiles were fired at both offshore and onshore targets around San Diego County during World War II and subsequent years. But details about Saturday’s mortar discovery were not released.

The scare came as federal anti-terrorism agencies have warned local police agencies of possible terrorist acts around the July 4 holiday.

In a joint bulletin, the FBI, the National Counter-terrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security did not warn of any known active plot, but did warn that extremists could launch attacks tied to Independence Day or in reaction to perceived defamation of the Prophet Mohammed.

“We are encouraging all law enforcement to be vigilant and prepared,” the statement read, in part. “We will also adjust security measures, seen and unseen, as necessary to protect the American people.”

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