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'Explosion' at Northern Ireland army barracks under investigation

Published 14/08/2015

Palace Barracks in Holywood, Northern Ireland, where police are investigating a possible explosion.
Palace Barracks in Holywood, Northern Ireland, where police are investigating a possible explosion.

Police are investigating a possible explosion at an army base in Northern Ireland.

A device, believed to have been concealed inside a postal van, detonated inside Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co Down.

There were no reports of any injuries.

Soldiers from The Royal Scots Borderers The Royal Regiment of Scotland have been stationed at Palace Barracks since August 2014.

Police initially said they were investigating a vehicle fire but later confirmed a possible explosion was one line of enquiry.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said: "Police remain in attendance at a fire in a postal van at Palace Barracks in Holywood.

"Although the cause of the fire has yet to be established and investigations are ongoing, a suspected explosion is one line of enquiry."

The fire spread to two other vehicles and three nearby garages. In 2010 the base which also includes MI5's Northern Ireland headquarters was targeted by dissident republican extremists opposed to the peace process who planted a bomb inside a hijacked taxi.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA Alex Easton said: "I am deeply angry and concerned that there has been an attempt to kill somebody or soldiers inside Palace Barracks.

"This is a very worrying development and I would totally and utterly condemn it.

"I am just relieved no one was seriously injured or killed and I would appeal to anyone who has any information to bring it to police to put those involved behind bars where they belong."

Scottish soldiers moved from Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh to Palace Barracks in August 2014.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence confirmed the cause of the fire was being investigated.

Ulster Unionist MLA Leslie Cree said: "Once again a small gang with limited numbers has demonstrated its ability to cause disruption through a violent act. The people responsible have nothing to offer anyone in this society."

Andrew Muir, from the cross-community Alliance Party, also expressed concern.

He said: "Whilst the full details are still unclear, I am appalled and sickened that any attempt has been made to inflict damage at Palace Barracks.

"Across Northern Ireland people will be sickened by such a blatant attempt to target local military who are welcomed as an integral part of life in Holywood, and we must all unite to move forward in creating a stable and peaceful future."

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