West Belfast police attack: Bomb triggered by command wire
A PSNI investigation into the bomb attack on a police Landrover on Friday night has revealed that the device was not thrown at the vehicle as was originally suspected but had been left in place at the City Cemetery and detonated by command wire.
Four officers and several members of the public were caught up in the explosion on the Falls Road at around 22:30 GMT. The Falls Road remains closed at this time as a follow up search of the area continues.
Superintendent Barbara Gray said, "This was not only a deliberate attempt to kill police officers but was an attack on the community of west Belfast, and it is only through good fortune that no-one, either police or civilian was seriously injured or killed last night.
"As with all incidents a review of the police response will be carried out to ensure that we do everything possible to provide the highest quality response to the communities of north and west Belfast."
In an earlier incident a PSNI officer is believed to have been the intended target of a booby-trap bomb that sparked a major security alert Blacks Road near the junction with Arlington Drive just before 8am.
The device was found not far from Woodbourne PSNI station, sparking fears an officer could have been the target.
Police would not comment about the potential target and said all lines of inquiry were being explored.
Terry Spence, who chairs the Police Federation, said there was a serious and ongoing threat from dissidents.
"There is a very severe threat to police officers and their families both on and off duty," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"It is very clear that the blood lust of these people and the hatred shows no bounds, and they will stop at nothing.
"We are determined they will not succeed, but the reality is they are ruthless. That device fell off the underside of a car.
"If a child or an adult had picked it up this morning they could have been killed.
"That is the ruthlessness dissidents continue to show."
SDLP councillor Brian Heading said those responsible needed to explain their actions.
"Once again a community in this city has been held to ransom by those intent on creating chaos and misery," he said.
"There can be no justification for this kind of incident. Week after week we go through the same callous, reckless pantomime.
"Those behind these attacks need to explain their actions to the people of this city.
"We cannot continue like this."
Sinn Fein councillor Matt Garrett said it was fortunate no one was injured.
"Those behind this device need to catch up with the rest of the people of Ireland who have moved on from the past," he said.
"Those that voice support for these groups, whose only allegiance is to violence, need to come forward and explain to the people what they aim to achieve by these actions."
Detectives are appealing for anyone who noticed any suspicious activity to contact them on 0845 600 8000.
Information can also be given anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Dissident republicans have targeted PSNI officers on numerous occasions. Previous attacks include:
- November 16, 2013: A pipe-bomb is thrown at a police patrol in the Ballycolman estate in Strabane.
- November 8, 2013: A former police officer finds a bomb under his car as he prepares to take his 12-year-old daughter to school in Belfast.
- October 23, 2013: A bomb is discovered in Newtownabbey after reports it had been thrown at a police patrol.
Belfast Telegraph Digital