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Belfast primary school bomb was dissident attempt to kill police officers

Police in Northern Ireland have said the "viable device" found near a Belfast school was an attempt by dissident republicans to murder security force members.

The explosive was discovered near Holy Cross Boys' Primary School , in the Herbert Street area of Ardoyne in the north of the city. A number of residents were evacuated for several hours as the security alert took place.

PSNI Chief Supt Chris Noble said the device had put lives at risk in the local community.

"There's no doubt that device was there to try and kill community police officers on the beat in their local area but also it was left in such a reckless manner and in such a reckless location that it would undoubtedly have led to the death or serious injury of a member of the public had it exploded anywhere near them," he said.

"This is an attempt, we believe, by violent dissident republicans to kill police officers but it was also very much an "anti-community act" as well, in terms of where it was located and the way in which it was left."

"The misguided individuals behind this device are seriously out of step with this community and clearly don’t care about the lives of those living in Ardoyne or the danger and disruption they have brought to their doorsteps. Placing this device, where they did, beside a school shows the contempt and disregard they hold this community in.

"Many families with young children, older people, the sick and 'those with significant disabilities had to leave their homes in the middle of the night last night. Police and community representatives stepped in to make sure these people had somewhere to go and were kept safe while those responsible for all of this were absent, likely safe in their beds.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the viable device was 'designed to kill'.

“Those behind it have no regard whatsoever for this community and they need to end these futile acts," said Mr Kelly.

“This was left at the gate of a school, yards from peoples homes on a busy walkway. Anyone could have  been passed this bomb.

“Twenty homes also had to be evacuated overnight including family homes.

“I welcome the fact that this device was found before it killed or injured somebody and anyone with information should bring it to the PSNI.”

Police Federation for Northern Ireland chairman, Mark Lindsay, said: “The people who did this wanted to murder or maim officers. They didn’t care if passers-by or children out playing in the area were caught up in an explosion. It was an entirely reckless act.

“This appears to have been a deadly, anti-personnel-type weapon. Thankfully, it was recovered and removed without being detonated. The attackers are terrorising people who live in the area and preventing them from getting on with their everyday lives.

“I would echo the appeal that has been made for help in finding the culprits and bringing them before the Courts.

“The local community, indeed Northern Ireland as a whole, want to be rid of these terrorists who are holding back communities and creating misery for the many.”

Policing Board Chair Anne Connolly said: 'Leaving an explosive device in the heart of the community shows the recklessness of those responsible as anyone could have been caught up in this.

"I'm grateful that the device was found and the attempt to harm our police officers thwarted.

"I urge anyone with information on those responsible to report it on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers.'

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