Derry bomb attack: I’ve lost everything but I’m happy to be alive, says shop owner
A kebab shop owner who “lost everything” during the 200lbs Londonderry car bomb attack on Tuesday said he is just lucky to be alive.
Lofti Jalloul, originally from Tunisia, said he watched the taxi which carried the dissident car bomb pull up outside his shop but had no idea of the “carnage” which would follow.
He said: “I was in the shop and I saw the taxi driver pull up. He went into the station and then straight away a police officer came over to the shop and ordered us: ‘Get out, turn everything off and get out.’”
Oglaigh na hEireann claimed it was behind the attack on Strand Road police station.
Mr Jalloul had his premises gutted by the explosion.
Other ruined businesses included a bingo hall, a nightclub and a medical practice. The shopkeepers saw the extent of the damage for the first time yesterday evening when they were allowed to return to their premises.
Mr Jalloul said he is lucky to be alive after only running to safety minutes before the car exploded outside his kebab shop. He said: “I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I didn’t get the chance to even shut the door but I just got my workers and a customer out.
“After what seemed a couple of minutes I saw a huge flash and there was a loud, terrifying bang.
“The taxi was on fire, it had just exploded and we had only just got out.”
Mr Jalloul, who came to Derry to build his business, said he has “lost everything”, but vowed to rebuild his shop.
David Harris, who has been operating the North West Money Exchange for 25 years, is equally defiant.
He told the Belfast Telegraph he was sickened by the whole thing.
He added: “It's hard to stomach what is in front of you, considering the good news that has come to Derry recently with the Saville Report finding and winning the City of Culture, the town really was getting on its feet again but I have been here for 25 years and I won't let this put me off opening up on the Strand Road again.”
It has since emerged that the organisation had tried to blow up the police station, which is the main PSNI headquarters in Foyle District, the previous day but that did not go ahead because two taxi drivers refused to co-operate.
Chief Inspector Chris Yates said the threat level from dissident attacks in the area remains “severe” and appealed for information from the public.
Describing the attack at “reckless”, he said: “It was only by luck that no one was killed and while the investigation is progressing we are making an appeal for information.”
Meanwhile hundreds of residents in west Belfast, including a one-year-old baby, returned to their homes yesterday evening after a car was left outside New Barnsley police station.
Around 40 families were evacuated from their homes after a suspicious device was left in the car.
It turned out to be a hoax and a man was arrested in connection with the incident.