Anger as suspect device is left on green in Northern Ireland estate with kids playing nearby
A grandmother has hit out at those who left a suspect device on a path in a housing estate in Londonderry, saying it could have killed dozens of children playing beside it on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Police evacuated families from 20 houses in Glengalliagh Park around 5pm yesterday after the discovery of the device on a path.
Police sources said it looked like a black box with wires and a timer on the outside of it.
As Army ammunition technical officers despatched a bomb disposal robot to carry out a controlled explosion, a woman emerged from one of the evacuated houses and walked directly past the scene.
After the controlled explosion, the robot overturned on the grass verge and was left immobile for some time.
A second robot had to be dispatched to finish dealing with the device.
Margaret Reed (64), whose Bloomfield Park home backs on to the green where the device was found, said that before police arrived children were playing football on the grass just metres from the object.
"I didn't even know what was happening until I saw the police cordoning the place off," she explained.
"They came to the door and told us to move to the front of the house for our safety and stay away from the windows.
"My grandsons were out the front playing football.
"One of them could have picked up that device. I don't even want to think about it.
"One of them could very easily have been killed - one of them could have kicked it, anything could have happened. It's terrifying."
She added: "It's terrible, there's no need for it. There were older people evacuated and people with families from Glenalliagh Park.
"It's not fair. I'd like to ask the people who did this, what is the point? What is this going to achieve?
"The people who did this could have killed someone."
SDLP councillor Brian Tierney expressed his anger.
"I am utterly dismayed to hear of yet another attack on our local community," he said.
"I completely condemn this act.
"Here at the scene now, up to around 20 homes have been evacuated as the police deal with what is only currently known to be a suspicious device.
"However, we do know the extent of the disruption this attack has caused, with families having to make arrangements with loved ones as they leave their homes.
"This area today was filled with young people playing football and games on a Sunday afternoon.
"The thought of any sort of attack here is unbearable.
Late last night police declared the alert an "elaborate hoax".
Police reminded people of the importance of following officers' advice around security alerts.
Inspector Mullan said: "We attended the area following reports of a suspicious object and ATO were tasked. We called to a number of homes in Glengalliagh Park and advised residents to leave their homes. Some residents agreed to leave their homes however a number of residents declined and were advised to remain inside their homes and take appropriate precautions.
"A resident left their home and walked past the suspicious object while attempts were ongoing to make the object safe.
"We spoke to the resident immediately after and, although she was shaken, she was uninjured.
"Our investigation into the hoax device is ongoing and we would appeal to anyone with information to contact us on 101."