Booby-trap device had potential to cause carnage
A bogus 999 call was an attempt to lure PSNI officers to their death by triggering a booby-trap device attached to a gatepost as they arrived to investigate.
The officers escaped injury as they responded to an emergency call made at around 11.50pm on Monday in south Belfast.
A man, who refused to leave his details, claimed to have heard a woman being assaulted in a wooded area off the Annadale Embankment area.
Officers arrived at the scene and walked past the device attached to a stile at the top of a path leading to the Lagan River.
The primed explosive, which according to a senior police officer was capable of “causing multiple deaths”, failed to detonate.
Superintendent Chris Noble described it as being “relatively small” but added it had the capacity to kill and seriously injure.
Mr Noble said as the investigation was at an early stage it was “speculation” that dissident republicans were responsible.
Police have been on high alert since the murder of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.
Army bomb experts were called to the scene on Tuesday at about 1.30am and the police helicopter was launched.
No homes were evacuated in the overnight security alert, but the road closure from Mornington Place to Wellington Square remained for most of yesterday.
Mr Noble said it was being treated as “attempted murder”.
“Anybody walking in through that gate had the potential to trigger that device,” he said.
Mr Noble would not state how many officers were at the scene, only saying a “significant amount” had responded to the call.
“Police had entered through the gate and were in the area searching for this woman and they subsequently discovered, relatively quickly afterwards, this device,” he said.