A press photographer who was forced to evacuate his home after being targeted in a pipe-bomb attack has insisted he will not be prevented from doing his job.
Father-of-two Mark Pearce, who has worked as a photographer for more than 20 years, said he and his family have been left terrified after the device was discovered at the front door of his home.
Mr Pearce, his partner and children, aged 12 and 14, were woken by police at around midnight on Thursday at their Carraig Crosain home near Newry and told to evacuate immediately.
Another five homes had to be evacuated while the device was made safe by Army bomb experts.
Mr Pearce said that an anonymous caller had contacted police to say a device had been left at his front door.
“I heard banging on the doors and police shouted in at me to grab my family and get out of the house by the back door immediately. We were terrified.
“I’m angry and I’m scared. My children are terrified. All I can think about is, what if one of the children had opened the front door and that pipe-bomb had exploded? That device could have killed,” he said.
The PSNI said the device was viable and called for anyone with information to contact it immediately.
The attack has been condemned by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), and the Northern Ireland Press Photographers’ Association.
South Down UUP MLA John McCallister described it as a “cowardly attack”. He added: “I would commend the actions of the police who ensured that the family and their neighbours were evacuated to safety. Their bravery is in contrast to the cowardly actions of those who planted this device in the full knowledge that innocent people, including children, could have been killed.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane said that “in any civilised society a free Press is paramount in maintaining democracy”.
Paul Connolly, the UK Society of Editors board member for Ireland, described the attack on Mr Pearce as a “sinister and worrying development”.
“This horrific incident underlines the grave threats that continue to be faced by photographers and journalists working in Northern Ireland,” added Mr Connolly, who is also managing editor of the Belfast Telegraph.
Audio: Mark Pearce speaks to Stephen Nolan