Belfast children's lives put at risk by mortar bomb packed with marbles
Young children's lives were placed in danger by those who left a mortar bomb close to a women's centre and creche, a councillor has said.
Women and toddlers were evacuated from the west Belfast women's centre yesterday following the discovery of the device in Poleglass.
Nearby residents also had to leave their homes as Army bomb disposal officers and police scoured the area near the Footprints Women's Centre at Colinmill Road.
An eyewitness told the Belfast Telegraph that the security forces had found a mortar-type device, complete with home-made ammunition of marbles.
In an explosion, the hardened glass balls could have caused lethal injuries.
The device had been embedded in the bank of a small stream and was crudely camouflaged.
Tubing, marbles and other components could be seen as forensic officers removed several clear plastic bags of evidence from the scene for investigation.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, local Sinn Fein councillor Stephen Magennis said: "This device was left close to homes and to Footprints Women's Centre, which has a creche for young children.
"The police had had intelligence reports of a suspect device in the area, which turned out to be correct.
"Young children use the Footprints facility very heavily during the day on their way home from school, and they play in the woodland area where the device was found.
"Whoever left this device put the lives of local children in danger.
"All the women and children from Footprints Women's Centre had to be taken to a nearby youth club for their own safety."
Homes looking onto the search site were also evacuated, the councillor said.
"It was very distressing, especially for the children and their parents," he said.
"Once parents hear that their child has been caught up in a bomb alert, they go into a blind panic."
Mr Magennis said he had worked closely with the security forces to limit the amount of disruption to local people.
"Poleglass has had its fair share of these kinds of attacks, and you must ask: 'why do these people continue to put the lives of the community in danger?'
"Whoever is doing this is putting lives in danger, and I have a very clear message for them.
"They are not welcome, they are not wanted, they have no support, and they have no mandate."
Detective Inspector Stuart Griffin said: "Army technical officers attended the find of a suspicious object and have declared it to be an improvised explosive device which has now been taken away for further forensic examination.
"This device had the capability to cause serious injury and was left in an open public area where anybody, including children, could have found it.
"I would ask anyone with any information about this incident to contact their local police station on the non emergency number 101, or anonymously via the Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111."