Three men have been arrested and a number of properties searched across Northern Ireland as part of an investigation into badger baiting.

A 39-year-old man was detained at Rainey Way in south Belfast and a 21-year-old man was detained at Island Street in the east of the city.

A third man – aged 42 – was arrested in Rathgill Link, north Down.

Police also searched a number of properties in the Banbridge and south Armagh areas.

Two dogs, who appeared to have suffered severe facial injuries, were recovered and items including guns and ammunition were seized.

The items have been taken away for forensic testing.

Officers said the raids formed part of Operation Meles into badger baiting, a joint investigation between animal charity the USPCA and the PSNI.

The three men are currently helping police with their inquiries following their arrest for various offences under the Animal Welfare NI Act, 2011.

Anyone with further information has been asked to come forward.

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