An explosive device discovered in a busy shopping area of Belfast city centre may have been there for days, police said.
A controlled blast was carried out and businesses evacuated overnight as residents, customers and business owners were shut out during Friday's alert in Bradbury Place.
The streets are usually thronged with restaurant-goers, night clubbers or businessmen during the day but they were replaced by police cordons and officers on guard.
Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable Drew Harris said: "It may have been there for some time but initially I am not sure that that is the case. You may be talking a matter of days as opposed to weeks or months."
Dissident republicans have been responsible for a string of bombings and shootings in the recent past, many aimed at members of the security services.
Friday's device was made safe by army technical officers and taken away for examination.
Many members of the Chinese and migrant communities live in the area, as well as university students.
Less than a mile from the bottom of the Lisburn Road and Bradbury Place is the City Hospital. Two busy train stations and the city's main bus centre are also a short distance away.
Mr Harris told the Policing Board of elected and independent members who oversee the police that officers were forensically examining the remains of the device.
"The particularities of the device do not give us any clues of its origin," he added.