Belfast Telegraph

Bomb fuels demands to step up security at Aldergrove

By Darwin Templeton

UNIONISTS demanded a review of security today after the Real IRA tried to bomb Belfast International Airport.

UNIONISTS demanded a review of security today after the Real IRA tried to bomb Belfast International Airport.

Army experts made safe the device which consisted of 44lbs of home-made explosives packed into a Volvo estate in a car park. The RUC said that if the bomb had exploded, it could have killed or injured scores of people.

Security sources believe the attack was timed to overshadow the unveiling of the governments' proposals to rescue the Good Friday Agreement.

The car used by the terrorists - a silver Volvo estate - had been stolen in east Belfast in June. Its number of plates had been switched to IUI 6661.

The security operation threw the airport into chaos, with the terminal closed for a time and the main car park sealed off.

Returning holidaymakers, prevented from reaching their own vehicles, were given refreshments by airport staff.

The alert began when a call was received by a Belfast newsroom around 5am.

An initial search found nothing, but after a second warning to a priest police began searching the thousands of cars around the airport.

Further police inquiries were needed to identify the bomb car.

RUC Inspector Graham Shields condemned the terrorists who had put lives of travellers at risk.

He said that the initial bomb warning had been very vague.

The incident sparked unionist demands for the Chief Constable to look again at the security around the airport - and other possible terrorist targets.

In the last few weeks, the Real IRA has carried out attacks in Castlewellan and Lurgan.

Last night in Lurgan, an Army patrol reported an explosion after an object was thrown at them at the edge of the Kilwilkie estate.

Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside, whose constituency includes the airport, said he expected both the RUC and airport management to look again at their arrangements.

"We simply can't have a threat, which hits business and tourism like this, to the airport," he said.

Referring to the normalisation moves contained in the governments' document, Mr Burnside said: "I don't know how you can have normalisation when the situation on the ground isn't normal.

"This incident could have ended in loss of life."

Detectives at Antrim are appealing for information on the car and any suspicious movements.

Belfast Telegraph

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