Belfast Telegraph

Ardoyne driver hijacked by bombers

By Padraic Grant

Parties from across the spectrum have condemned dissident republicans who hijacked a car and forced the driver to deliver a bomb to the city centre.

The 132lb device partially exploded in the car park under Victoria Square on Sunday night. It was placed in a hijacked silver Renault Laguna. The driver was stopped in Jamaica Street in Ardoyne at around 9.30pm by three masked men wearing boiler suits. They directed him to take the device to Victoria Square, where he abandoned the vehicle and raised the alarm at the nearby Musgrave Street PSNI station.

The bomb's detonator exploded but failed to ignite the rest of the device. The attack caused traffic chaos in the surrounding area, the latest in a series of alerts that took place across the city on the previous day, including alerts on Ravenhill Avenue in the east and Stockman's Lane in the south of the city. It was also the latest incident to take place in Ardoyne, an area that has seen simmering tension and sporadic violence over the past few months.

Three weeks ago an aerial drone was used for the first time in Northern Ireland after a small bomb was found in Jamaica Street in the area.

Speaking about the latest incident at Victoria Square, Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey said: "The bomb attack last night in Belfast City Centre was completely reckless and endangered many local people and indeed those who were visiting Belfast."

"There is now a democratic and peaceful way to bring about Irish unity. There is no reason whatever for any group to engage in or promote or support violent actions. These actions are disrupting people's lives, sending more people to prison and could eventually lead to a loss of life. Whoever is behind these attacks need to stop and stop immediately."

UUP MLA and Policing Board member Ross Hussey also commented on the spate of attacks, saying: "This is utter madness which the vast majority of people in this society, from whatever political perspective, will condemn unreservedly. These groups must be shunned and exposed as the fascists they are. They have nothing to offer but destruction and death and they must not be allowed to threaten the peace which the rest of us want and have worked so hard for."

"Once again I call on the Secretary of State to do all in her power to make sure that the PSNI have all the resources and support they need to combat this latest republican threat and to remove those responsible from circulation."

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