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Homes evacuated following Belfast hoax bomb alert

By David Young

Published 02/09/2016

Paul McCusker
Paul McCusker

A major security operation has ended in north Belfast after what was thought to be an explosive device discovered in a street in Ardoyne.

Initial reports suggested that the device had been thrown at a PSNI patrol.

Residents from more than 20 homes were evacuated as part of the security operation, which continued late into the night.

Those forced from their homes sought sanctuary in a local community hall in nearby Herbert Street.

The Ardoyne Road was closed to traffic, as was Alliance Avenue, which links Ardoyne with the nearby Cliftonville Road.

Motorists were advised to seek alternative routes for their journeys.

Oldpark SDLP councillor Paul McCusker condemned whoever was behind the planting of the device.

"Elderly and sick residents have been asked to evacuate tonight following a security alert in Ardoyne," he said.

"This type of behaviour is a disgrace.

"I'm not sure what the motive could be for planting this device - but I am certain about the disruption caused to many local residents."

The councillor said that the PSNI confirmed to him that the device was viable, and that more than 20 homes in the area had been evacuated. Mr McCusker said anyone who has information regarding the device should contact the PSNI.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said: "Families are being evacuated from their homes in the Velsheda/Alliance Avenue area of Ardoyne as a result of a bomb alert and local thoroughfares have been closed.

"The Ardoyne Community Centre has now been opened to deal with the emergency.

"This has caused considerable disruption and inconvenience to local people.

"Those responsible have clearly no regard for the interests of the community."

In a statement, the PSNI said last night: "Police are currently at the scene of a security alert in the Velsheda Way/Alliance Avenue area of Belfast, following the discovery of a suspicious object.

"Ardoyne Road and Alliance Avenue have been closed.

"Motorists should seek alternative routes."

On Friday morning, police said the object was a hoax and all roads reopened and residents allowed back to their homes.

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