Belfast Telegraph

Proxy bomb fury as man forced to deliver suspect package to Strand Road police station

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

Dissident republicans who are trying to force people to become human bombs have no support, an Assembly member has said.

Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey was speaking after masked thugs threatened a van driver and told him to deliver a suspect package to Strand Road police station in Londonderry.

It was one of a series of security alerts across Northern Ireland over the weekend.

Last night, two alerts in Belfast were ongoing. Victoria Street and Chichester Street were closed and Victoria Square shopping centre evacuated after reports of a suspicious car outside Musgrave Street PSNI station.

And homes in the Ravenhill Avenue area of east Belfast were evacuated following the discovery of a suspicious object in a derelict building.

In Derry at around 8pm on Saturday, the driver of a fast-food van was approached by two men wearing scarves over their faces while he was making a delivery to a house in the Highpark area of Creggan. They ordered their victim to deliver a package to Strand Road Police Station.

At this point, the distressed driver fled on foot. His van was subsequently taken away by police for forensic examination.

It is the second time within a week that workers have been told to drive a bomb to the station.

Last Wednesday, a masked man boarded a bus in the Ballymagroarty estate at around 6.45pm and ordered the female driver to go to Strand Road police station.

But with the device placed directly behind her seat, she instead drove a short distance to Northland Road and called the police.

Dissident republicans were blamed for it, and are believed to be behind the weekend attempt.

SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey  condemned Saturday's incident as "another unjustified attempt to cause chaos and destruction in our city".

Last night, a PSNI spokeswoman said no group had claimed responsibility for the incident.

In Belfast, homes in the Stockmans Lane area were evacuated while army bomb experts examined a suspicious object. A controlled explosion was carried out and it was declared a hoax.

Meanwhile, police used a remotely controlled drone as part of an operation to defuse a small bomb in north Belfast.

Several houses in the Ardoyne area had to be evacuated after a viable device was discovered in Jamaica Street. A suspicious object found on the beach at Ballycastle, was later described by police as "nothing untoward".

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