Dissidents were behind pipe bomb thrown onto sleeping pensioner's bed
The home of a pensioner who was sleeping when a pipe bomb was thrown through her window, landing beside her on her bed, was targeted because her son had been involved in an argument with a republican outside a bar, the family believes.
Police have launched an attempted murder investigation after the pipe bomb was thrown through the bedroom window of 65-year-old Mary Peoples in Melmount Villas in Strabane on Sunday evening.
It landed beside her on her bed but failed to explode.
The device was taken out of the house by her son Ryan who threw it into a green area, where it lay for a full 24 hours before police were alerted and sealed the area off.
Mary says she has been completely traumatised by the incident, which came a fortnight after her son had been warned by the PSNI that his life was under threat by republicans.
"I have bad rheumatoid arthritis," said Mary.
"When I get a flare-up I have to go to bed.
"I was lying in bed on Sunday evening and something crashed through the window, right through the double glazing and smashed into the wall just above my bed.
"It came through with such force that it left a dent in the wall and took the plaster off.
"There was glass everywhere.
"I started to scream and panic and call for my son.
"I picked the thing up and looked at it. It was a really heavy metal pipe with what looked like a wick on the end.
"When my son heard me squealing he ran in.
"He took it off me and went straight out the door. I was absolutely petrified. Even now, when I think what could have happened it makes me cry. I want to know, 'why me?'"
Her son Ryan says he took the pipe bomb from his mother's shaking hands and ran out of the front door with it, over to fenced-off waste ground nearby and threw it over into overgrown bushes.
"It was a bomb - a 4in thick, 6in-long metal pipe with a fuse on it," he said.
"I didn't think of my own life.
"I didn't think at all.
"I just ran out the front door and threw it over the fence to the waste ground.
"I just wanted to get it away from the house and away from my mother.
"I remembered that poor woman from Portadown who was killed after she picked up a pipe bomb.
"They could have killed my mother.
"I didn't report it to the police until Monday night. I didn't know what to do.
"I knew that this area is full of elderly and disabled people and I didn't want them evacuated.
"I thought I was doing the right thing.
"My mother has just recently moved into her house. The day after it happened I went to the waste ground, found the bomb and moved it to an area well away from the houses and called the police."
Ryan says he had been recently warned by police that his life was in danger.
He says he believes the attack happened because of an altercation he had in Strabane town centre with a republican.
"I have never been involved in any kind of trouble at all, ever," he said.
"I am a bricklayer, I have worked hard my entire life.
"This is all to do with an altercation I got into outside a bar in the town with a republican.
"The week after the row happened the police came to my door and told me my life had been threatened by republicans and now this.
"My mother could have been blown to bits.
"The people who did this are cowards."
Ryan says he is "angry and scared thinking of what is going to come after this".
His mother Mary says that she is now terrified in her own home.
"The house is not the same," she says.
"I don't feel safe.
"I keep thinking they'll come back with something else.
"They know by the railings outside my house that a disabled person lives here.
"I have never done any harm to anyone in my life.
"Why attack me?"
On Monday night, Army bomb disposal officers dealt with the device.
The area was sealed off until early Tuesday afternoon.
Londonderry and Strabane PSNI Chief Inspector Alan Hutton confirmed that the device was a viable pipe bomb and blamed "violent dissident republicans" for the attack.
"Today we are thankful to God that we aren't dealing with fatalities," he said. "This is a despicable act, a terrible act committed by people who have no regard for our community.
"Today we have launched an attempted murder investigation.
"There are people in society who know who carried out this attack.
"I would appeal to the community to stand together and help us catch the people who did this and bring them to justice."