Video: Fire bomb attack on Belfast city centre shop in Corn Market
Published 16/12/2013 | 20:57
A fire bomb attack on a Belfast shop has led to a large security operation in the city centre.
It's understood a suspected 'incendiary' device ignited in the Golf Centre Shop shop in the busy Corn Market area at around 6.40pm - close to the Victoria Square shopping centre.
Staff inside the building took the device outside before raising the alarm.
Police have since closed off the area and part of the surrounding streets.
An Army bomb robot was used to examine the suspected firebomb, which appears to have been placed inside a cardboard box.
Bomb experts remain at the scene this evening with police maintaining a large presence in the area.
Police are once again advising city centre businesses to check their premises for any suspicious objects.
Several large businesses in the area were affected by the alert, but the nearby Victoria Square shopping centre remained open.
Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) chief executive Glyn Roberts condemned yet another attack to hit trade in the run-up to Christmas.
"It is absolutely despicable that we have another bomb attack in the city centre but I know that there is still an absolute determination amongst traders and shoppers to continue on and not be dragged back by people behind these attacks," he said.
SDLP MLA Alban Maginness condemned the bomb attack, and said those responsible "should not be permitted to prevail".
"It beggars belief that following the placing of a bomb in the Cathedral Quarter on Friday night that Belfast would be faced with yet another attempted act of wanton destruction," he said.
"To place an incendiary device in a busy shopping area is both reckless and irresponsible and serves no rational purpose."
The attack homes only hours after Northern Ireland's most senior police officers said there would be a larger security presence in the city following a bomb attack on Friday night.
A senior officer today claimed officers had obtained an image of a suspect linked to the small explosion in St Anne's Square.
On Friday, police officers acting on misleading information provided in a telephone bomb warning to a Belfast newspaper, had been evacuating people from a hotel 150 metres away from where a black sports bag containing the bomb had been placed.
Dissident group Oglaigh na hEireann claimed responsibility for the attack.
Hundreds were evacuated in the dozens of bars, restaurants and hotels due to the alert.
Senior officers have also urged members of the public affected to examine pictures and videos taken which may be of use to their investigation.
Earlier this evening the army defused a pipe bomb found in the garden of a house in West Belfast.
Condemning Monday night's fire bomb attack on a Belfast city centre shop, Alliance MLA Anna Lo said she was "sickened that yet again lives have been put at risk by the mindless actions of these callous and evil individuals".
"There is no place in our society for those who wish to bring death, injury and destruction to our streets.
"There is no support for the actions of those behind this device. We must stand together in our opposition to them. The public do not want to return to the dark days of the past."