Belfast Telegraph

Shots fired at police vehicles

Police officers came under fire from gunmen in Belfast tonight.

They were in three vehicles which were targeted as they travelled along the Crumlin Road in the north of the city just after 7pm.

There were no reports of any injuries.

Police Service of Northern Ireland district commander Chief Superintendent George Clarke said the attack was being treated as attempted murder.

He said: "It is to be utterly condemned by all right-minded members of society and I urge anyone with any information to contact police immediately."

An undisclosed number of rounds were fired at the police vehicles as they drove close to Brompton Park.

Any witnesses have been asked to contact detectives at Tennent Street.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds blamed dissident republican extremists opposed to the peace process for the latest attack.

He said: "This was a clear attempt to murder police officers with shots fired from Ardoyne at the Land Rovers. Thankfully no-one was injured in this attack but it is vital that those responsible are identified and brought to justice."

Dissident republicans have been responsible for a number of attacks in Belfast and Londonderry recently.

Two weeks ago a car bomb packed with 130lb (60kg) of explosives partially detonated outside a shopping centre in Belfast city centre. The car used to transport the bomb was hijacked in Ardoyne and the driver forced to take it to Victoria Square where he was able to abandon it and raise the alarm.

Days earlier a female bus driver in Derry was threatened by masked men and ordered to take a bomb to the city's main police station.

Mr Dodds added: "There does appear to be a growing dissident threat within Ardoyne and we have seen the intent and capability of these terrorists in Belfast all too clearly in recent weeks."

North Belfast councillor John Blair, from the cross-community Alliance Party, also condemned those responsible for the shooting.

He said: "There is absolutely no place in our society for this type of violence. The lives of police officers and residents in the area were put at risk.

"The police are there to protect the whole community and they have my full support. I am deeply concerned that there are those who would seek to target police officers. There can be no justification for this attack."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly described the gun attack as reckless.

He said: "Those behind this attack are serving their own narrow agenda and are in no way representative of this community.

"Whoever was behind this attack need to come forward to this community and explain there actions. To date they have failed to do so and act solely on their own behalf."

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