Belfast Telegraph

Bomb aimed at police in north Belfast missed target and exploded in mid-air

By Claire Williamson

A bomb was aimed at a police patrol in north Belfast last night but missed its target and exploded in mid-air

A PSNI spokeswoman said a device could have been thrown or fired at a police Land Rover at Victoria Parade in the New Lodge area on Tuesday night.

Detectives believe the device was either thrown or fired at officers in a Land Rover at Victoria Parade in New Lodge at about 10.30pm. No one was injured.

There were no reports of any injuries and the police vehicle was undamaged

While the bomb did not hit the police vehicle, another motor had its front windscreen smashed and dashboard damaged in the incident..

Families living in Victoria Parade were moved from their homes as Army technical officers investigated.

People in the New Lodge Road area said they heard a loud bang at around 11pm. Dissident republicans are suspected of being behind the incident, thought to have involved a blast bomb.

The operation is continuing today following the possible attack on police patrol.

Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said: “We believe a device thrown or fired last night at around 10.30pm exploded in the air but did not come into contact with any police vehicle.

“However as part of the follow up operation with Army Technical Officers we discovered a vehicle within the Victoria Park area was damaged.  We believe the damage was caused by the device thrown.

" The front windscreen of the vehicle was smashed and there was further damage caused to the dashboard.  If someone had been inside this vehicle, they most likely would have sustained serious injuries or could have been killed.

“We know that these types of incidents are carried out by a small but mindless number of people within our communities.  They have shown a callous disregard for the safety of the local community and the police officers who serve it. We are very fortunate this morning that no one was killed or seriously injured as this incident occurred in a residential area, putting the lives of those living there at serious risk.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to providing a service across Northern Ireland despite the attempts of a small minority who attempt to kill officers serving their community who should be allowed to carry out their duties without the added pressure of misguided individuals intent on causing them harm.

Chief Superintendent Grimshaw continued "As part of the ongoing operation this morning unfortunately it is necessary that a small number of residents remain out their homes as an essential safety precaution.

“North Queen Street Community Centre remains available to people within the area.  We apologise for the disruption but it is unfortunately unavoidable. Our first priority must be to ensure the area is thoroughly checked and that it is safe for local people.

"I would appeal to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area or who has any information to contact Detectives at Musgrave on the non-emergency number 101. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."

The Ulster Unionist Party’s North Belfast spokesperson, Andy Allen condemned those behind the bomb attack

He said: “This was a disgusting attack on Police Officers who go out each day to serve and protect the entire community and it must be condemned unequivocally.

“Those who carried out this callous attack did so with total disregard for the safety of the community.  It is very fortunate no one was killed or seriously injured."

.Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly called it "reckless".

He said: "There is no place for these armed gangs in the community and once again residents lives have been hugely disrupted in the course of this incident.

"The New Lodge is a community that has suffered some of the worst tragedies during the conflict and nobody wants a return to those days.

"There is good work being done in the area to improve the lives of local people and armed gangs that are currently involved in violence, extortion of new housing projects and  intimidation have been roundly rejected by the New Lodge community.

"I’d like to pay tribute to everyone that helped last night including those who worked to open facilities for displaced residents during the incident.

"Thankfully nobody was injured in this reckless attack."

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