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Belfast bomb: Community is united in outrage at murder bid

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 05/03/2016

A bomb disposal unit officer at the scene following a suspected car bomb attack on a prison officer at Hillsborough Drive on March 4, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
A bomb disposal unit officer at the scene following a suspected car bomb attack on a prison officer at Hillsborough Drive on March 4, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
A bomb disposal unit officer inspects the damaged van following a suspected car bomb attack on a prison officer at Hillsborough Drive on March 4, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The scene at the top of Hillsborough Drive off the Woodstock Road in east Belfast where a device exploded under a van resulting in one man being hospitalised. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast.
Picture credit © Matt Mackey - Presseye.com Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th March 2016 The scene where a man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. It happened around the Woodstock Road at about 07:10 GMT on Friday.
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast.
The scene where a man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. It happened around the Woodstock Road at about 07:10 GMT on Friday.
The scene where a man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. It happened around the Woodstock Road at about 07:10 GMT on Friday.
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast.
The van at the scene of the car bomb in East Belfast
The scene where a man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. It happened around the Woodstock Road at about 07:10 GMT on Friday.
Police seal off a large area after a device exploded under a car in east Belfast, leaving a man injured.
Police seal off a large area after a device exploded under a car in east Belfast, leaving a man injured. Pic Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA Wire

Community and church leaders from across Northern Ireland's sectarian divide have united in condemnation of the bomb attack on a prison guard.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said: "Like all his colleagues in the prison service, this officer serves the whole of the community, in stark contrast to the people who carried out this appalling and violent crime."

Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness, the region's First and Deputy First Ministers, issued a joint statement in which they described the attack as "despicable and shocking".

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has also expressed concern at what he called a callous and cowardly incident.

Northern Ireland's Justice Minister David Ford said the people who planted the bomb had shown no regard for life.

Meanwhile, Prison Service director general Sue McAllister said her thoughts were with the victim and his family, adding that his colleagues would not be deterred.

"This was a despicable act and an attack on us all," she said.

The DUP's Emma Pengelly, whose constituency office is close to the blast scene, said: "We are trying to build a peaceful Northern Ireland. This is not the type of thing that we want to see here."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said there can be no place in society for such attacks, while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described the perpetrators as thugs.

East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle also expressed his outrage at the "sickening echo of the past".

Church leaders have also spoken of their horror and revulsion, including Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ian McNie who said: "This attack is a throwback to a past that should never be repeated, as violence, then as now, has no place in our society."

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