Belfast Telegraph

Mum tells of family's miracle escape as bomb injures pet dogs

By Chris Kilpatrick

A mother-of-three has spoken of her horror after she was injured – along with two family pets – when a blast bomb exploded at her north Belfast home.

Roberta Toan was at home with her husband Sam and their 12-year-old daughter when the device – believed to have been thrown by loyalist paramilitaries – ripped through the front door on Sunday.

The 44-year-old sustained deep lacerations to her legs in the blast. Two pet dogs were seriously hurt.

Sources claimed the attack was carried out on the house in the Thorburn Road area of Whitewell by the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The strength of the explosion sent shards of wood and glass through the semi-detached house and removed chunks of masonry from its front.

The PSNI is treating the incident as attempted murder.

Pulling up her trousers to show the extent of injuries to her legs, a distressed Mrs Toan said she felt lucky to be alive.

She had just returned from a dance competition with her daughter when she heard a knock at the door of her house at around 9.45pm on Sunday.

"I shouted 'who is it?'. There was no answer. I walked forward and asked again 'who's at the door?', and there was no answer," she said.

"I stepped back into the small living room then there was the bang. Lights blew, smoke started, the dogs started crying, yelping and my daughter started crying."

Mrs Toan said she ran up the stairs to grab the child and carry her out the back of the house to her sister's home next door.

It wasn't until she reached her sister's she realised she was bleeding. She was taken by ambulance to hospital for treatment.

She said: "If I had opened the front door then I definitely would have been killed. If my 12-year-old daughter had have answered the door, as a normal 12-year-old would when the door raps, she would have been killed too.

"I'm just so disgusted somebody would do this, try to kill somebody."

She said she knew no reason why someone would carry out the attack, adding her home had never been targeted in the past.

Both animals – a Japanese Akita called Kita and Dude, a small poodle – were receiving treatment on Monday.

"My two dogs were both injured, one lost a paw (Kita) and had half a leg amputated, and the other is all cut and stapled. Both are very weak and with the vet at the minute," said Mrs Toan.

A police spokeswoman said they were investigating a number of lines of inquiry and appealed for information.

They want to speak to anyone who saw a dark coloured car, believed to be a Ford Focus, seen driving away from the attack.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds condemned those responsible, while DUP councillor Guy Spence called the attack "serious and sinister".

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