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Children in pyjamas screamed in terror as bomb exploded on street

By Donna Deeney

Published 29/04/2015

Police forensic officers at the scene of the explosion outside the Probation Board offices at Crawford Square in Londonderry yesterday
Police forensic officers at the scene of the explosion outside the Probation Board offices at Crawford Square in Londonderry yesterday
Superintendent Mark McEwan speaks to the media

Dramatic images were caught on CCTV of a bomb exploding in a quiet Londonderry street as young children stood in the road in their pyjamas, screaming in terror.

There were scenes of chaos in Crawford Square on Monday night as residents ran outside after the device went off just minutes after a warning was phoned through to the Samaritans.

Police described the warning, which was received shortly before 11pm, as totally inadequate.

The device, which exploded just minutes later, had been left outside offices used by the Probation Service.

The exact type of the device used was not disclosed by the police, but it was capable of killing or seriously injuring anyone in the vicinity.

Normality returned to the area yesterday, and with it the realisation that people living in the quiet, affluent street could have died.

Among those angry that families were put at risk was Bernie Webster, who said: "There was pandemonium here for a while after the bomb exploded and my neighbour's two young children were in hysterics, standing in the street in their pyjamas after being woken from their sleep.

"Now that we know the police have said it was a bomb capable of killing, it leaves you feeling extremely angry.

"The only people here at that time of the night were residents, no one would have been in the probation office then, so the only people who would have been hurt were residents."

Superintendent Mark McEwan said the device had detonated before officers could get to the scene.

CCTV footage of the bomb exploding
CCTV footage of the bomb exploding

He added: "It is still unclear what the motive was, but we are working as quickly as we can to return the area to normal.

"Motivation was either to cause intimidation, to cause damage and with total disregard as to whether or not it caused serious injury or killed someone."

Condemnation was swift and was led by the SDLP's candidate in the Westminster election, Mark Durkan, who described the bombers as enemies of Derry.

He added: "What we have here is a group of people who think that somehow they are helping Ireland by planting bombs or viable devices in a built-up residential area.

"By messing up the lives of families and leaving young children in hysterics, they somehow believe this is striking a blow for Ireland.

"Those responsible for carrying out this despicable attack have shown themselves to be literally enemies of the people of this city."

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion added her own condemnation.

She said: "We are really lucky that we are not dealing with a fatality or a serious injury.

"I would like to reassure the staff working within the Probation Service that this type of intimidation and attack will not be tolerated and they should be able to continue with the work they do without fear and I can assure them that the community is behind them and there is no support for such incidents in our city and district." The Ulster Unionist Party's policing spokesperson, Ross Hussey MLA, suggested that it was time for the Army Technical Office (ATO) to maintain a permanent presence in Derry.

"The frequency of these attacks in Londonderry means that serious consideration must be given to establishing a permanent ATO presence in the north west to help cover the Foyle and West Tyrone constituencies," he said, adding that it would reassure residents.

"I believe that Castlederg police station would make an ideal base for such a presence, which would provide support and reassurance for the north west of the province, and reduce the delays caused by waiting for ATO support to travel to the region from Lisburn or Holywood."

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