Belfast Telegraph

Horror of Omagh parents after school evacuated in bomb alert

By Nevin Farrell

Frantic parents have told of their fears after their children were forced to evacuate a primary school in Omagh after a report that a bomb was planted in the building.

It later emerged the report was a hoax.

Memories of the Omagh bomb atrocity came flooding back as first details came of the claim that a device had been left at Omagh County Primary School yesterday.

One parent, whose sister was injured in the Omagh bombing of 1998 that killed 29 people and unborn twins, said she initially felt "sick" with fear when she heard that her five-year-old son was caught up in the school security alert.

Cheryl Briggs (42) lives four miles from Omagh. Her son Jamie was being picked up by her cousin yesterday.

"I received a message that there had been an evacuation. The first I thought was that it was a fire drill, but then I started seeing posts on my iPad which said it was a bomb scare," she said.

"A friend rang me and said the principal was very agitated and there had been a sense of urgency and panic and everyone was pushed into a back car park and told to move away as far as possible.

"Everybody had to leave very quickly and leave their jumpers and coats and lunchboxes.

"It was all handled brilliantly by the school, but when I first heard 'bomb' mentioned I felt sick and numb.

"I have a sister who went through the Omagh bomb and was injured and I thought: 'Please God no, not this again'."

It is understood principal Jill Funston received an email around 1.55pm saying there was a bomb in the school that would explode at 2pm. It also contained the message 'Up the 'Ra'.

The kids were evacuated to nearby Omagh High School.

DUP MLA Tom Buchanan witnessed frantic parents and grandparents rush to pick up children.

"They were totally appalled and angry that a primary school should get a message about a device with an ultimatum," he said.

"It was a traumatic experience, especially for the children and parents."

He said many children believed there had been a fire.

West Tyrone Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff said: "This is not the message we want our school children to be receiving in today's society.

"Whoever was responsible for this has no support in the community."

Police are appealing for information on Omagh 101 or phone Crimestoppers 0800555111.

Quotes

"Huge disruption has been caused to pupils, staff, parents and members of the public here today.

"Police take all precautions to ensure the safety of the public and I would like to thank anyone affected by the alert today for their patience whilst officers searched the scene."

PSNI Inspector Keith Hicks

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