Probation Board blast condemned
An explosion that damaged Probation Board offices in Northern Ireland gave officers inadequate time to react and endangered the public, police representatives said.
No one was injured but residents were evacuated late last night in Crawford Square near Londonderry city centre and children were traumatised by the ordeal, the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) said.
Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process have targeted government buildings in the past.
Initial reports of a second device have been ruled out, it is understood.
Federation chairman Mark Lindsay said: "Innocent lives were put at risk by whoever left this device and their actions are to be roundly condemned.
"Considerable disruption has been caused to people that live in the immediate area, young children left traumatised by it all.
"People deserve better, they deserve to be left in peace to get on with their lives and not forced out of their homes by those who think their actions are advancing a cause."
A total of 20 homes were evacuated.
Cheryl Lamont, acting director of the Probation Board, said: "The Probation Board for Northern Ireland provides a public service to local communities throughout Northern Ireland, indeed our staff are part of the local community.
"PBNI's role is to change lives for safer communities. Everything we do is about protecting the community and ensuring there are fewer victims of crime.
"The attack in the vicinity of our offices in Crawford Square last night put members of the public at risk and has caused huge disruption in the local area."
Members of the security forces have been on high alert for attacks by dissidents.
Republican hardliners have targeted the Policing Board, which oversees the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Police officers, soldiers and a prison warder have been killed since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which largely ended decades of violence.
Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford said: "Whoever planned, assembled and set off the bomb in Derry on Monday night have nothing positive to offer the community. It put the lives of local people at risk and forced them to leave their homes.
"Damage was also caused to local businesses, including the Probation Service, who provide an invaluable service protecting the community through managing offenders and helping them reintegrate into the community."
A PSNI spokesman said: " Crawford Square in Derry remains closed to traffic this morning while police and army technical officers investigate an explosion in the area last night. Northland Road is open to traffic."
Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly member Raymond McCartney condemned the attackers.
"Thankfully no one was injured as a result of this reckless attack in a built-up residential area.
"This has brought nothing but disruption to the lives of local people and to the city generally.
"This is a city moving forward and the people have made it clear that they do not want these type of incidents.
"We will not allow a tiny minority to drag us back to the past."
Police told the BBC they were given an "inadequate" warning before the bomb exploded.
Superintendent Mark McEwan said: "Basically a warning was given that was totally inadequate in terms of allowing the police to actually take any positive action and the device activated before police were able to start the evacuation.
"We have to condemn outright the very fact that somebody has put a bomb in a highly residential area here and that has been placed here in order to intimidate, cause damage and potentially cause serious injury or death."