A car bomb has exploded in a quiet residential area of east Belfast, injuring a 38-year-old woman and shocking the local community.
The woman, believed to be a police officer's partner, was reversing a red MX5 sports car out of the driveway of her Kingsdale Park home when the device exploded at about 7.30am this morning.
Police erected screens along the entrance to the King's Road to prevent onlookers watching as they carried out an extensive search of the area, but before this move extensive damage could be seen to the front of the car.
Less than a mile from PSNI headquarters, the local community and politicians have spoken of their shock at the blast in the residential area.
One woman at the scene said: “We are all in shock, the local community and police are going to have to be on their guard.
“During the Troubles we had a few scares, but nothing like this. I thought all this was over.”
If found to be a dissident republican attack, it marks a move away from the normal targeted areas, as even during the height of the Troubles this part of east Belfast remained out of the spotlight.
Speaking to The CT Lord Wallace Browne MLA said: “This has just been such a shock, that something like this could take place in this area.
“Even during the height of the Troubles, this area always lived in harmony.
“I hope the injured woman makes a speedy recovery. I urge the entire community to be vigilant and ask anyone with any information to come forward.”
His party colleague Robin Newton MLA added: “We are very lucky that no-one was really seriously injured here.
“This area has always been relatively quiet and I have no recollection of this kind of incident occurring here.”
The explosion happened on a day when Belfast was looking to the future with the official start of celebrations marking the re-opening of the City Hall.
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Naomi Long, who is also an MLA for the area, had just finished showing a group around City Hall when she heard the news.
She said: “It is only by the grace of God that no-one was killed in what was a reckless and indiscriminate action which put not just the owners of the car but the whole community at risk.
“There is a real contrast today. The events at City Hall are full of positives as everyone joins together to look to the future, but this bomb is a distractive move. The whole community must have the vision to move forward and not allow those who plant bombs to drag the country back to the past.
“I would urge anyone with information about this incident to contact the police. The people who did this must be caught and prevented from carrying out any more attacks,” she added.
Speaking earlier today, PSNI Chief Superintendent Brian Maguire indicated the devise could have caused a fatality.
He said police were still investigating who the intended target was.