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Security forces or prison officer 'may have been intended target' of Lisburn bomb

Device believed to have fallen from car in city centre

By Cate McCurry and Jonny Bell

Published 01/08/2016

Police carry out an operation in the Lagmore area of west Belfast after they tracked down a car which they believe a viable device fell from in Lisburn city centre earlier on Saturday
Police carry out an operation in the Lagmore area of west Belfast after they tracked down a car which they believe a viable device fell from in Lisburn city centre earlier on Saturday
Police carry out an operation in the Lagmore area of west Belfast after they tracked down a car which they believe a viable device fell from in Lisburn city centre earlier on Saturday

A prison officer or other security force member may have been the target of a bomb found in Lisburn over the weekend.

Streets were closed and businesses had to shut after the item was discovered in Market Place in Lisburn on Saturday.

Police are investigating if the device, which was destroyed in a controlled explosion, fell from a vehicle as it made its way through the city.

Searches were carried out in the Lagmore area of west Belfast and police seized a vehicle in the aftermath of the discovery, which triggered a security alert that lasted several hours.

It's thought a serving prison officer or member of another security force may have been the intended target.

Speaking to the BBC, Lagan Valley MLA Paul Given said: "There is conflicting information around how this device ended up in Lisburn and a clear line of enquiry is that it fall off a vehicle and the past has shown that prison officers have been targeted in this way.

"Most recently we can remember Adrian Ismay who lost his life as a result of an undercover booby trap device.

"And that reminds us of the need to be vigilant.

"These people have a clear intent to take life in pursuit of their aims and anything that is suspicious needs to be reported.

"Saturday's event was hugely disruptive but most importantly it put the public at risk."

The DUP representative added: "Prison officers are currently under a severe threat - a level of threat that has existed for a number of years.

"I know a number who are having to take action to protect themselves."

There have been reports that only part of the device was found leaving open the possibility the other part may still be on the vehicle.

Mr Given said he was not in a position to comment on those reports.

Condemning the incident and those behind it, local MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it could have been much worse.

"But for the alertness of the public and courage of the police, people may have been killed in Lisburn," he added.

"The dissident groups who engage in this terrorism are determined to destroy the progress made in taking Northern Ireland away from the murder and violence of our dark past.

"They have no mandate for their actions. They must not and will not succeed."

Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann also condemned those behind the device and described the discovery as "concerning".

"Thankfully, no one was injured in this incident," she said. "There can be no place and no justification for attacks like this in our society.

"This community is moving forward and does not want to be dragged back to the past with things like this."

Jonathan Craig, a DUP councillor for the area, said the item was intended to kill or maim a member of the security forces.

He added that these types of devices were "completely indiscriminate".

"Not only do they kill or maim the individual that they target, but they will seriously injure, if not kill, any member of the public that is anywhere near the device when it goes off," Mr Craig explained.

"Police are trying to use whatever CCTV coverage there is to try and find the vehicle which this device fell off.

"Obviously, there is a massive security risk, but whoever it is, they will need to know this happened to them.

"I can take a reasonable guess and say the target is a member of the security forces. I think that this was a very targeted attack.

"(There is) no doubt in my mind, given the sophistication of the device, that it was dissident republicans trying to kill or maim more than likely a member of the security forces or Prison Service, and this it will prove to be."

Superintendent Brian Kee appealed for anyone with information to come forward. "We are following a number of lines of enquiry," he said. "One of these is that the device may have fallen from a vehicle.

"As part of a follow-up operation in the Lagmore area of Belfast last night, a vehicle was seized for examination. We are keen to hear from witnesses or anyone who was in the Market Place area on Saturday and who may have information that could assist the investigation."

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