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Residents evacuated after bomb attack on Army base

People evacuated from their homes have told how they picked their way through twisted shards of metal and glass after a car bomb attack at an Army base in Northern Ireland.

Mother-of-four Tracey Jordan lives next to the site of the blast at Palace Barracks, between Belfast and Holywood, Co Down. Secret service MI5's new Northern Ireland headquarters is in the area.

Ms Jordan was being helped away with her three-month-old baby when the device exploded.

She said: "The paint went flying everywhere, we were trying to scramble through it to get out. There were broken vases and everything. I don't know when I will get into the house again or what damage has been done."

She recalled the moment police raised the alarm. "I thought I was dreaming," she said. The family had only minutes' notice before the device exploded.

Retired baker Jackie Budd lives yards away and awoke in confusion after the blast. He said: "I was just dazed, I did not know what was happening. There was just this loud bang and I thought something had blown in the house."

This is the first attack of note in Holywood, a mainly middle-class area with long ties to the military, since the 1980s. The incident coincides with the transfer of policing powers from London to Belfast.

Mr Budd lives seven or eight houses down from the scene of the blast. He said: "There was debris on the road, what looked like big pieces of metal. There was no panic or yelling from the police, they just did their job."

The site of the bomb is a leafy area with dramatic views of Belfast Lough on the outskirts of the city.

People in nightgowns and overcoats, suddenly made refugees, made the 656-yard (600m) walk to a nearby community centre on a chilly night, negotiating fragments from the car bomb and trying to contact relatives by phone. All the residents were taken to Redburn Community Centre where they had breakfast provided by Palace Barracks.

Press Association

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