A police station guard had a miraculous escape after a car bomb partially exploded as he drove to work through a busy residential area.
The device went off as the man, who is a former police officer, drove from his home to Cookstown station yesterday morning.
The man, who is in his fifties, was not injured but has been left badly shaken.
Dissident republicans have been blamed for planting the device — the third attempted attack on security personnel in recent days.
The PSNI’s district commander, Chief Superintendent Michael Skuce, said it was a “barbaric” attack which could have caused death.
“We could have been dealing with a murder here,” he said.
“The intent of the people who carried out this attack was to murder this person.
“It is unbelievable that this person walked away unscathed — he escaped with no injuries whatsoever, albeit he is very shocked.”
The man was driving along Sweep Road when the device partially exploded around 8am yesterday, prompting a major security operation.
Around 100 residents, a nursery and several businesses were evacuated while Army bomb experts examined the device.
“The people who planted this device gave scant regard to the lives of people moving about and the person who was the subject of this terrible attack,” said Mr Skuce.
The acting chairman of the Policing Board, Brian Rea, said it was a reckless act.
“Not only could this have killed or injured the driver of the car but it could have caused serious injury to any passerby or children at a nearby creche,” he said.
There was strong political condemnation of yesterday’s attack, with the First and Deputy First Ministers branding it “senseless and cowardly”.
Martin McGuinness said the “mindless attacks” did nothing to further any cause, while Peter Robinson said the bombers wanted to create death and destruction.
Policing Board member and Mid-Ulster MLA Ian McCrea said it was a “dastardly and disgraceful attack” by terrorists determined to wreck the political process.
“We could easily have been talking instead about a fatality or a very serious injury,” he said.
“The community must remain vigilant and forthright in their opposition to the murderous activity of terrorists. No stone must be left unturned in bringing these evil criminals to justice.”
Sinn Fein Assembly member Francie Molloy said the bomb attack was wrong. “This man has the right to work anywhere he wishes and should not come under any threat in doing so,” he said.
SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said campaigns of violence and intimidation had no justification.
“If putting people out of their homes, if disrupting businesses, if putting young children out of a creche is liberating Ireland, then it’s a liberation we can do without,” he said.