Belfast Telegraph

Derry security alert: 'It's a bomb and designed to kill'

Access to housing estate is restored and evacuated people can now return to homes

Police have confirmed that they have discovered a 'significant' bomb that was designed to kill officers in the ongoing Londonderry bomb alert.

However, they did not confirm what kind of an explosive device it was, its size or when the ATO would be able to make it safe.

Police have now restored pedestrian and vehicular access to the Currynierin estate and those who were evacuated from their homes are allowed to return.

However, the Ardmore Road countrywards of the estate entrance remains closed to allow while the bomb is made safe.

It is understood that dissident republicans were behind the intended attack on security forces.

Superintendent Mark McEwan confirmed the discovery of the bomb close to the Currynierin housing estate on the outskirts of the city - after a 24 hour security alert which saw people evacuated out of their homes.

Supt McEwan said that those who left the bomb had showed a "callous disregard for the safety of the community and police officers".

He said  that while he believed that police officers were the intended target, he said that it had the potential to kill and maim other members of the community as it was sited so close to a residential area.

He added: "This has caused significant disruption. This alert has been ongoing overnight. We are now into a new phase of the operation dealing with this bomb.

"We will be conducting forensic follow-up. We will do everything we can to get people back into their homes tonight but I cannot guarantee it."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has condemned those behind the latest thwarted bomb attack.

He claimed it was dissidents who were bringing British soldiers back on to the streets of Northern Ireland in the form of the bomb squad.

It is understood that the device was left in a laneway which is the main access to the estate.

It was discovered around 10pm on Monday night following earlier telephone warning reports that something had been left in the area.

Police advised householders not to leave or enter the estate once the awareness of a possible  explosive device was made reported to them yesterday.

Those evacuated from their homes either went to nearby friends and families in the estate or stayed at the YMCA in Drumahoe which was opened to house those who need shelter.

It was revealed on Monday that some children had to be safely escorted out of their homes in the estate to be reunited with their parents outside.

The officer in charge of the overnight operation, Chief Inspector Andy Lemon, has reiterated police regret for the impact on the local community but has stressed that the main priority of police is to ensure the safety of that community.

The Ardmore Road in Derry was closed on Tuesday morning, as was the Currynierin Estate. There was no access to either due to the ongoing security operation.

On Monday, police safely re-united children with anxious parents as the only access route to the estate was closed off to entry in and out due to possibility of an explosive device in the only access route.

Also on Monday police said it may have been several  hours before residents in the Currynierin estate would be allowed back to their homes after the area is made safe.

Dozens of people waited outside the estate after returning home from work and finding themselves separated from their families.

Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson spoke of the anger and the frustration of the residents regarding the security alert.

Speaking on Monday he said: "The full impact of the incident was felt tonight as many people returned home from work only to find that they could not get into their homes and to see their families.

"There's a lot of anger and frustration in the community but people do understand that the police have to check the area and to be safe.

"But it looks like it's going to be some time before the alert is over."

Mr Jackson said that the police had earlier helped to reunite children left stranded at home inside the estate with a parent arriving back to the estate after the alert operation had started.

Around 12 families were evacuated from their home s in Conway Park in the estate which has over 130 homes in what is a predominantly nationalist area.

Police were not letting residents in or out of an estate in Londonderry after bomb threats were made by telephone earlier on Monday.

The calls warned of an explosive device left in a laneway at the entrance to the Currynierin estate on the Ardmore Road on the outskirts of the city.

Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan said on Monday: “There is just one route in or out of the estate and given the imprecise nature of the information and the potential for harm, we are asking people to remain within the estate.

“We are treating the information we have received with utmost seriousness.  We cannot be sure of the level of risk, nor can we ignore the possibility that other devices have been left.

“Our priority is to keep people safe, and, bearing in mind  the background of other incidents in the city in recent months, we cannot be specific on how long this situation will persist.”

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