Belfast Telegraph

Dissident republicans blamed for bomb found on policeman's driveway

Dissident republicans have been blamed for placing a bomb outside a policeman's house that exploded as an Army disposal robot was trying to make it safe.

No-one was injured when the device detonated in the driveway of the officer's home at Ardanlee in the Culmore area of Londonderry.

The bomb was lying on the driveway. It is suspected to have fallen off the policeman's vehicle before or as he drove away from the house.

The neighbourhood is in a predominantly nationalist area of Derry.

A security alert was triggered around 9.30am on Wednesday when the device was discovered.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said: "We as a community are fortunate that we are not talking about a death or a serious injury.

"My colleague has had a very lucky escape."

The officer added: "At this stage it's our belief this is an attempt by the violent dissident republicans to kill one of my colleagues."

He said the fact the device detonated as the robot approached it demonstrated how sensitive it was.

"The risk that posed to children, to others members of the community is really concerning," he said, appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Mr McCalmont said the officer and his family had been through a traumatic experience and that many members of the community had contacted the PSNI to offer their support.

"My colleague is someone who wakes up every day to go to his work, focused on keeping the community safe, preventing harm in the community, which is in sharp contrast to those who left a viable explosive device at the heart of our community," he said.

Vice chairwoman of Northern Ireland's Policing Board Debbie Watters said the officer had a "very lucky escape".

"I am grateful that the evil intent of those responsible for leaving this device did not succeed," she said.

"This officer has had a very lucky escape but such activity reinforces the continuing threat that exists for our police officers both on and off duty."

The Northern Ireland Police Federation, the body that represents rank and file officers, called for the people who carried out such attacks to be "ostracised".

A spokesman said: "Once again we see police officers targeted for simply trying to protect the community.

"The people who are intent on targeting and attempting to murder police officers have nothing to offer their community or society at large other than misery and destruction.

"These people should be ostracised by all people who support the democratic path."

Around a dozen homes were evacuated in the area following the discovery of the bomb.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire branded the attack "despicable".

"The people who planted this device intended to kill or cause really serious injury," he said.

"Their murderous intent is in stark contrast to the focus of this police officer, who went out this morning to serve the community.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland have our unstinting support for their work in keeping people safe and the public service they give."

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said: " I was shocked and appalled to hear that a bomb exploded on a street in Derry today and has now forced twelve families to leave their homes tonight.

"This was a reckless and criminal attack, which put an entire street in danger. There is no excuse, no justification, for such irresponsible criminality.

"I am thankful that no one was hurt today. My thoughts are with all those affected, in particular the PSNI officer and his family.

"I am calling on anyone with any information to immediately report it to the police."

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