A female PSNI officer targeted by dissident republicans in a fireball bomb bid was a civilian staff member who only did 12 hours a month in uniform as a community officer.
Police have blamed the New IRA for planting the device at the officer's car beside where her three-year-old daughter sits.
The explosive was left at the officer's home near Dungiven, Co Londonderry, and was attached to a container of flammable liquid.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan branded the murder bid as "despicable and cowardly".
The device, which did not detonate, was designed to create a fireball, Mr McEwan said.
First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill joined in condemning the attempted attack as "reprehensible".
Ms O'Neill said she had spoken to the officer and there was "still a fair degree of shock".
Last night Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said targeting a young mother marked a sickening new low for dissident extremists.
"This is a despicable attack which is sickening in its concept," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "How low will they go? Does their depravity know no bounds?"
Police sources said the part-time officer was part of a scheme aimed at encouraging more women and people from a nationalist community to consider a career in policing.
The part-time officers can only work a maximum of 122 hours a year in uniform in a community or supportive role.
Given her low profile community posting, sources said the woman did not believe she was under any threat from dissident republicans.
She will now have to relocate with her three-year-old toddler following the attempt on her life.
Speaking during a PSNI Press briefing yesterday, ACC McEwan said: "Today we are investigating a sickening attack on a young mother who serves her community both as a member of police staff and a part time police officer.
"Yesterday morning, our colleague discovered a suspicious object beside her car. We assessed this was a viable device.
"What is really distressing here is the terrorists placed the bomb at the rear of the car, directly where the victim's three-year-old daughter sits.
"Whilst the investigation is at an early stage...a strong line of enquiry is that this attack is the work of the New IRA.
"This was an explosive device designed to create a fireball. That fireball would have engulfed the car, anyone in it and in the proximity."
The New IRA is one of the most active dissident republican terrorist groups in Northern Ireland. It was blamed for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee during disorder in Londonderry in 2019.
Formed in 2012, the group has also been blamed for detonating a large car bomb outside the court house in Derry in January 2019, as well as sending parcel bombs to addresses in Great Britain in March of the same year.
Chief Constable Simon Byrne led condemnation, tweeting: "I strongly condemn this outrageous attack on our officer and her family."
He added that "this attempt to harm is a stark reminder of the challenges still facing us all."
The First and Deputy First Ministers also condemned the would-be bombers.
Mrs Foster said: "All right-thinking people will reject those who try to drag us back into violence through such cowardly deeds. People across Northern Ireland will unite in agreement that this barbarity has no place in today's society and that this dark and sinister agenda is a thing of the past, not our future."
Ms O'Neill described the bomb attack as "absolutely deplorable, unacceptable, unjustified and completely wrong".
She said people must "stand together to condemn it", adding: "I have spoken with the Chief Constable, I have also spoken with the officer herself to offer my support and solidarity at this difficult time.
"I think it is fair to say in speaking to her that there is still a fair degree of shock. It is only sinking in, the magnitude of what could have happened to both herself and her young family, and that is totally unacceptable and we have to call it out. It is wrong."
Justice Minister Naomi Long said: "This was a despicable and cowardly act against the mother of a three-year-old child which could have had devastating consequences for both her and her daughter."
Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said the "vicious and cowardly attempted attack" was a reminder that there is "a small minority whose warped mentality means they remain willing to use violence to advance their agenda. "This act of attempted murder is abhorrent and reckless," he added.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin tweeted: "Deeply reprehensible and cowardly attack on the home of a police officer in Northern Ireland last night. Politicians across this island must work together to avoid a return to the dark days of fear and terror."
Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken said: "There must be no hiding place for those who seek to murder police officers or use violence in pursuit of any political objectives."
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "The cowards behind (this attack) could not be further removed from the bravery and compassion of officers who put themselves in harm's way every day to keep communities safe."