Belfast Telegraph

PSNI fears top bomb-maker with dissidents

By George Jackson

A device fired at a police vehicle in Londonderry is understood to have been a mortar.

Chief Supt Stephen Cargin also said he believed that dissident republicans in the city now had among their ranks an experienced bomb-maker

He said the "increased level of sophistication" of devices used in three recent attacks in the city "is a really worrying development".

The projectile is understood to have been a mortar, fired by command wire.

Chief Supt Cargin was speaking the day after two police officers on routine patrol at Circular Road in Creggan escaped injury when their armour-plated Discovery Land Rover took a direct hit from the mortar.

Two members of the public travelling immediately behind the targeted police vehicle also escaped injury when the rear window of the car they were in was blown out by the impact of the blast.

"This was an attempt to murder my officers and they are extremely lucky they were travelling in an armour-plated vehicle. As seen in recent attacks in this area, during which the terrorists have used a pressure plate booby-trap bomb and secondary devices including trip wires, it is clear that the threat against my officers is severe," he said.

"So, too, is the threat against members of the public. The terrorists used the cover of a pensioner's house to attack my officers and they also put in danger the lives of the two members of the public travelling behind my officers.

"This device contained a significant amount of explosives. My officers are members of the community they are determined to protect. They live in the community, their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and other family members live in the community.

"At the moment I am waiting for the outcome of forensic examinations to determine the exact type of device used here last night, but the nature of its sophistication is a worrying development, there is no doubt about that.

"The tactic of luring police officers into bomb traps and using secondary devices was used many times in the past but it has re-emerged in recent weeks in my distirct. We now have to be more careful in terms of how we respond to incidents."

Meanwhile, the city's SDLP mayor Brenda Stevenson said she was outraged following the bomb attack. "It was an attack on our community and on our community police force. People in the area are really angry at what happened in their estate.

"The police in this city are doing a tremendous job and they are coming under more pressure, but will stand together as a community and stand by the police," she said.

Local MP Mark Durkan said those responsible had no regard for anyone except their own warped and violent egos.

"They will not succeed," he said. "They are out to destroy and don't care if they injure or kill anyone in the process.

"This callous and dangerous attack and the two punishment-style shootings in the city over the weekend fly in the face of efforts made by so many people to improve life here", he added.

Quotes

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said on Twitter that two shootings in the city at the weekend and the "attempt to kill members of the police service in Derry are futile acts which will achieve nothing for those responsible". SDLP MLA for Foyle Pat Ramsey said: "The only thing those responsible for last night did was bring pain and suffering to the people of this city who don't want it or need it."

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