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Care homes hit by bomb alerts

By Clare Weir and Brendan McDaid

Vulnerable adults yesterday became the latest victims of a spate of pipe bomb alerts in Strabane after they were forced to evacuate a residential home and a daycare centre.

Ten residents at Iona House and 15 from the Glenside Adult Care Centre were moved out of their Derry Road premises after the alert began at 10.45am.

Workmen discovered a plastic barrel dug into the ground and a police officer at the scene later told how two devices were found inside a sealed plastic sewer pipe within the barrel.

Around 200 people working at the district council offices were sent home and two ambulances also had to be drafted in when paramedics stationed at the rear of the council building could not access their vehicles.

The find is the latest in a spate of similar incidents in the district. Police confirmed last night that CID were investigating after a number of devices were found and removed for further examination.

Army Technical Officers were called to examine three other devices left in and around Strabane on Monday, Tuesday and on Wednesday, when a community bus used to deliver meals on wheels was stolen and a device was later found on board when it was recovered.

However Strabane Community Project, which lost the valuable bus, extended a hand of friendship to the evacuees from Iona House and Glenside on Thursday, inviting them to St Patricks Hall at Barrack Street and offering shelter and a hot lunch.

Daniel O'Hagan of the group said that helping out was the least they could do.

"We normally have 40 on a Thursday and today we had 60, but it's no trouble.

"Losing the bus was terrible and to hear about this bomb scare makes me very depressed. These are helpless and deprived people hurting here."

Staff from Iona House and Glenside paid tribute to the project for their help, adding that, due to contingency plans, elderly and vulnerable people were moved from their accommodation with minimum stress.

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