Race hate motive suspected in pipe bomb attack
A pipe bomb attack carried out on a north Belfast house is being treated by police as a racist hate crime - and could easily have led to tragedy, a councillor has said.
The device was discovered in Atlantic Avenue yesterday afternoon, triggering a major security operation which saw families evacuated from their homes, as well as roads closing and traffic chaos.
The PSNI described the suspicious object as a "viable device" as it was removed for forensic examination.
It's understood that a man from central Europe had been living in the house targeted in the attack.
The pipe bomb was thrown after a rock was used to smash a window in the house late on Wednesday night.
But the deadly device was not discovered by the occupants until yesterday morning shortly after 9am, when a brave neighbour helped carry the potentially lethal home-made bomb into the street outside.
SDLP North Belfast councillor Paul McCusker condemned those responsible for the device.
"Those behind this device recklessly endangered the lives of local residents including the many young people who use this area because of the nearby shops and school," he said.
"A number of residents have been evacuated today as police continue their searches.
"This has created severe disruption for a number of elderly residents and families with young children who have been forced from their homes because of these reckless thugs.
"Those behind this attack have nothing to offer local people - and they must be brought to justice."
Sinn Fein councillor Mary Ellen Campbell also hit out at the criminals behind the security alert.
"This attack was wrong and must be utterly condemned," she said.
"It has brought nothing but disruption to the local community with several homes being evacuated. Incidents like this serve no purpose other than bringing disruption to the community and they need to stop immediately."
PSNI Inspector David McBride said: "The discovery of this device is being connected to an earlier report of criminal damage which is being treated as a hate crime, when a window was broken by a large rock at a residential property.
"Police are currently investigating these incidents and I appeal for information from anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area between midnight and 9.30am (on Thursday) to contact police at Tennent Street station."