Hoax forces 50 people out of homes and causes rush hour traffic chaos
A hoax device discovered just a short distance away from two bombs planted by dissident republicans in north Belfast led to the evacuation of another 50 homes and caused major traffic disruption yesterday.
The suspect pipe-bomb-type device was discovered at the back of a row of shops in the York Road area yesterday afternoon.
A number of local residents had to be evacuated from their homes to a nearby church as Army bomb experts examined the object.
The area was declared safe at around 5.30pm and residents were allowed to return home when the object was discovered to be a hoax.
There was concern that the alert could have been an attempt to lure officers into an ambush.
Police were lured to the scene of a bomb on the Antrim Road on Sunday night and dissident republican group Oglaigh na hEireann claimed they were just seconds away from detonating the device when they aborted the plan because of the presence of a civilian.
A second bomb was discovered behind a scout hall in the area on Thursday afternoon.
Yesterday residents said they were angry at the disruption that those responsible were causing to their lives.
“It's absolutely horrendous that this is still happening. There are a lot of elderly people living in there and they must be scared stiff.
“For it to happen just days after that alert on the Antrim Road is terrible — I thought all that was over and done with,” said mother-of-two Tania Willis (34).
Pensioner Esther Fyfe (78) said: “There are a lot of families living in the street and it is an inconvenience to everybody. I just got out when I was told to — what else can you do?” Rafael Czup (23) said: “I came back from holiday and tried to get back into my house and was told we had to stay out.”
North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said the security alerts in the area this week are a “worrying development”.
Mr Dodds added: “There has been a lot of tension and concern in the area. It has caused a lot of disruption with people out of their homes. It is very worrying that these devices are being left in such built-up areas. People from whatever background do not want this.”
UUP MLA Fred Cobain said: “The people of the York Road, just like those of the Antrim Road, simply wish to live their lives in peace and not have their day-to-day business disrupted by bombs or hoaxes.”