Belfast Telegraph

Police targeted in dissident republican bomb attack in Derry: Homes evacuated amid security operation

Homes have been evacuated in Londonderry following a dissident republican pipe bomb attack on police officers last night.

A passing police patrol vehicle was damaged when a device was thrown at it in the Creggan Heights area.

The PSNI vehicle, a four-wheel-drive, was travelling along Circular Road when there was a loud explosion from the left hand side of the vehicle.

Local people claimed the 4x4 had been damaged in the incident but still managed to drive off.

There was some debris that appeared to have come from the vehicle lying in the vicinity of the attack. A large hole seemed to have been blown in a hedge

The suspected pipe bomb bounced off the vehicle and ignited in the garden of a nearby house. No-one was injured.

Dissident republicans have been widely blamed for the attack.

PSNI Chief Inspector Alan Hutton said: "We are extremely fortunate there were no serious injuries or death.

"This was not only a reckless attack on my officers but also on residents in this area."

The incident came on a weekend when two men were shot in the legs in paramilitary-style attacks in Derry - crimes that have also been blamed on dissidents.

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney condemned those behind the violence.

"It is a very worrying development that there has been three incidents in less than 24 hours in the city," he said.

"The people of Derry have made it clear over the years that they do not want this type of activity in their communities and they need to stop.

"The gangs behind these attacks have no regard for anyone and if they continue with this reckless agenda it is only a matter of time before a member of the public is killed or injured."

SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey also condemned those behind the attacks.

On the bomb blast, he said: "It's simply through luck, rather than design, that this attack didn't take the lives of police officers or residents. It's simply an outrageous attack on this community. The perpetrators have nothing to offer but pain and misery that the people of the city don't want, need or deserve.

"I would call on anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious or who may have any information to contact the PSNI as soon as possible."

Ulster Unionist Assembly member Ross Hussey said: "Punishment shootings have no place in a normal society and I know the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are appalled by these types of barbaric attacks.

"If these cowards think that covering their faces and inflicting their own skewed account of justice is helping the people in the city then they are greatly mistaken. They are thugs who have been appointed by no-one but themselves and whose only impact is to spread fear through the communities they claim to help.

"I wish the men attacked on Saturday and Sunday evening a speedy recovery.

"Not content, however, with inflicting pain on members of the community, these criminals also attempted to cause pain and misery on the only lawful force there to help it - the PSNI.

"It is very fortunate that the pipe bomb missed the police patrol in the Creggan area, but it could have still ended with tragic circumstances as it bounced into a nearby garden."

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