Belfast Telegraph

Derry bomb attack linked to award

A bomb attack on an office linked to Londonderry's term as UK City of Culture has been condemned as an attack on the city's future.

Police have confirmed a small device exploded at around 3.30am on Monday and damaged the front door of the building in the centre of Derry. No-one was injured but there was widespread condemnation of the symbolism of the attack.

Political leaders hit out at those responsible for the blast, with dissident republicans opposed to the peace process the prime suspects, although no claim of responsibility has yet been made.

Officers sealed off the Custom House Street area and launched a security operation following the attack to ensure the area was safe.

Pol Callaghan, SDLP Assembly member for the Foyle constituency, said: "This is more than an attack on a building - it is an attack on the rebirth of our city and our hopes for the future. It will not succeed. The wider community wants progress, not a return to the dark days of the past."

The city's mayor, Colum Eastwood, said the attack was a depressing incident that he branded an attack on the people of Derry. The nationalist politician said securing City of Culture status had brought communities together, adding: "It's actually a sectarian attack."

The pedestrian area in Guildhall Square, which last year was the scene of the release of the Saville report into the shootings of Bloody Sunday, was also closed off during security checks following the bombing. There was speculation that a pipe bomb-type device may have been used in the attack.

In July last year, Derry won the race to become the UK's City of Culture in 2013 and the news was welcomed by both unionists and nationalists as a further sign that the city was leaving the damaging decades of the Troubles behind it.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed that a "small device exploded at the City of Culture office, causing some damage to the door". Officers appealed for anyone with information on the attack to come forward.

They said they were keen to talk to taxi drivers who were operating in the city centre around the time of the attack. A spokesman added: "They would particularly like to speak to any taxi drivers who were in the area and may have picked up two men in dark clothing."

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