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I'm lucky to be alive, says man whose house was targeted by bomb

By Nevin Farrell

Published 11/09/2015

Forensics officers at the scene of two explosions at Brookfield Gardens, Ahoghill
Forensics officers at the scene of two explosions at Brookfield Gardens, Ahoghill
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council deputy mayor Timothy Gaston

A man whose house was one of two properties rocked by early morning explosions caused by pipe bombs says he is lucky to be alive.

Two explosions rang out in the mainly loyalist Brookfield Gardens estate in the Co Antrim village of Ahoghill at around 2am yesterday.

Police said there were no injuries.

One man - believed to be in his 30s - whose home was targeted said he was on his own in the house when the front window shattered.

He didn't wish to be named, but said: "I was sitting in the living room and if I had been closer to the window I would have been killed.

"The whole window blew in and there is a hole in the wall in the living room.

"I am lucky to be alive. I was not injured but I was in the same room as the explosion and my ears were ringing for a long while."

He said he was shocked, and wouldn't comment on local speculation that the attacks were linked to a loyalist paramilitary dispute involving north Antrim and south east Antrim UDA elements over drugs.

He insisted he will not be moving from his home.

Grafitti appeared on a wall nearby, saying 'North Antrim UDA out'.

Yesterday morning police had sealed off the area around both houses, but the broken window in the man's property was visible.

A neighbour said: "I heard the loud bang. I looked out the window and saw the smoke and I was in the house after it. The room is wrecked."

Another resident said: "Someone could have been killed. It is believed single men live in the two houses which were targeted."

Another Brookfield Gardens resident, Jim Robinson (72), said he was evacuated from his home.

"I am shocked that something like this has happened here and I am glad nobody was hurt. The evacuation was hard on old people, having to get out of bed at two in the morning."

TUV councillor Stewart McDonald said he was alerted around 2.55am that there were two large explosions at Brookfield Gardens and he arrived around 10 minutes later "to ensure all residents were safe".

He added: "The police had done a great job and the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council did a great job with their emergency plan and got them all housed in Ahoghill Community Centre and everybody is safe and well.

"It is very sad that this has happened; it has disrupted this whole community, people not getting to school, people's medication in the house and people prevented from going to work. Vehicles are at a standstill.

"Around 55 houses with over 100 people evacuated. Whoever did this was not thinking of the community."

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council deputy mayor Timothy Gaston said: "I have been in Ahoghill a number of times in the last few months in connection with Britain in Bloom and Communities in Bloom, and also with the Queen's Award.

"This incident this morning sets the community back. This isn't reflective of the local hard work that the local people do that has changed Ahoghill around to the thriving community it is."

Police are appealing for information.

Chief Inspector Simon Ball said: "The pipe bombs were left outside the homes of two men and both devices had timers attached. Pipe bombs can be deadly devices in their own right, but the use of the timers made them particularly dangerous for the community at large.

"Thankfully no one was injured as a result of the explosions. However, significant damage was caused to the front of one property in particular.

"While it is too early to say if any paramilitary organisation or group was behind these incidents, we do not believe at this stage that the attack was motivated by sectarianism or racism."

Chief Inspector Ball added: "We are appealing for any information from anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in and around Ahoghill on the evening of Wednesday or into the early hours of Thursday.

Belfast Telegraph

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