Viable device found in north Belfast security alert
A viable pipe bomb was uncovered during a security alert in north Belfast, police have said.
The area at North Queen Street in the New Lodge was close for several hours as army bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion.
The small metal object was removed and will undergo a further forensic examination.
A police dog and a robot were also used during the operation.
Sinn Fein councillor JJ Magee condemned those responsible saying "they offer nothing but misery to the local community".
"Yet again some of the people have to be evacuated from their homes. They've had a few weeks of really bad anti-social elements around the bonfire and then to be woken up this morning and asked to leave their houses is totally disgraceful.
"This is totally wrong and it needs to stop. It's 2016 and there's no place today for this kind of stuff," he added.
Detective Inspector Mary White said the incident caused "massive inconvenience, disruption and upset" for the local community around north Belfast.
She said: "I would like to thank the members of the public for their patience and cooperation during the operation this morning.
"I am appealing for anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the North Queen Street area close to Spamount Street or anyone with any information that could assist with the investigation to contact Detectives at Reactive and Organised Crime at Musgrave Police Station on 101.
"Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers."
Two women were arrested "on suspicion of breaching the police cordon" during the security alert.
Nuala McAllister, Alliance councillor for north Belfast said someone "could have been killed".
"Somebody could have been seriously injured or killed had this pipe bomb exploded, particularly as it was placed in the middle of a residential area and close to a busy shopping centre," she said.
"People in north Belfast do not want to see this sort of incident taking place and are opposed to those behind it, who do nothing but cause disruption with their actions.
"I urge anyone with information about those behind this device to contact police immediately."
Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin said residents were forced out of their homes for several hours.
"Those responsible showed no concern or care about the safety of the residents or passers-by," she said.
"It is no surprise to anyone that this incident followed a night of anti-social behaviour in the area associated with a nearby bonfire, which included street fighting among rival gangs and the theft and burning of local property.
"The people responsible for placing this device are at war with their own community. They should stop their futile actions before they kill or seriously injure someone."
The alert comes weeks after a suspicious item was found in Lisburn.
Police were investigating whether the device fell from a vehicle in Market Place at the end of last month.
Searches were carried out in the Lagmore area of west Belfast and police seized a vehicle in the aftermath of the discovery.