Belfast Telegraph

Improvised explosive device found underneath PSNI officer's car at east Belfast golf club

  • Police believe viable device was planted by violent dissident republicans

  • PSNI treating the incident as attempted murder

  • PSNI chief constable George Hamilton: "Those who carried out this despicable attack have nothing to offer Northern Ireland"

Police outside Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast (David Young/PA)
Police outside Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast (David Young/PA)

An improvised explosive device has been found under a PSNI officer's car at an east Belfast golf club, police have confirmed.

A tournament being held at the Shandon Park Golf Club was cancelled and at least 70 people evacuated.

The course is close to the headquarters of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

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Bomb squad officers used a robot to examine the device (David Young/PA)

The PSNI said shortly before 1pm on Saturday a suspicious object was detected under a serving police officer's. car.

Ammunition Technical Officers were called to the scene and, following examination, they have declared it to be a viable improvised explosive device.

Detective Superintendent Sean Wright, Head of Terrorism Investigation Unit, said: "It is very fortunate that this device was detected before it exploded and that no one was killed or seriously injured.  It was clearly intended to kill the police officer.  In placing such a device, terrorists have also put the officer’s family, neighbours and members of the public at serious risk.

"Attacks on police officers are attacks on the entire community and they are an attack on our democracy.  Anyone who places an explosive device under a car in a built up area cares little about our communities. 

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Army bomb disposal at Shandon Park Golf Club in East Belfast where a bomb was found under a car in the carpark. Picture Colm O'Reilly 01-06-2019

"Their reckless violence cannot be allowed to continue. There are people within our communities who know who did this and there are people out there who knew this was being planned. 

"There are also people out there who know those who are members of terrorist groups.  My plea to all of those people is to tell us what they know and by doing so they will help to prevent this small minority dragging us back to the past.

"Our belief is that this attempted murder was carried by violent dissident republicans. 

"They don't care who they attack, they don't care who they kill. They are simply anti-peace and anti-democracy.

"The community can be assured that the Police Service of Northern Ireland will do everything possible within the law to bring those responsible to justice. 

"However it is very important that we get information about this incident quickly. We need support from members of the public in bringing those responsible to justice.”

The Police Federation of Northern Ireland (PFNI) condemned the incident.

Mark Lindsay, Chair of the PFNI, said: “This is an appalling attack which, although it targeted a Police Officer, would have been wholly indiscriminate if it had detonated.

“We are fortunate that we are not looking at fatalities as a result of this wanton and wholly futile act of terrorism. This device could have exploded at any time killing both the Officer and anyone nearby. We should have left the days where terrorists attempt to murder Police Officers long behind us and those responsible need to be made more aware of this by society.

“I would urge my colleagues to double their personal security measures to ensure that the terrorists fail in their attempts to murder police.

“Those who construct and plant devices such as this should be shown again that the community does not support them. Anyone who saw anything that would assist in finding those who carried out this attack should contact the PSNI.”

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The club is near the PSNI’s headquarters (David Young/PA)

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said: "I utterly condemn the attempted murder of one my officers in Belfast today. My thoughts are with the officer and their family.

"Those who carried out this despicable attack have nothing to offer Northern Ireland but a return to the pain and suffering of the past."

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process pose a serious threat to the security forces and have used similar methods to attack their members in the past.

It is understood the car park area is covered by CCTV and footage will be scrutinised by detectives.

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The device was spotted by someone leaving the club and police were alerted (David Young/PA)

Democratic Unionist Stormont Assembly member Joanne Bunting said it was a busy club with many golfers and social members on the premises and was surrounded by residential communities.

“It would be absolutely reckless for anyone to target such a busy area with an explosive device.

“We should recognise the alertness and swift response of all involved. Nevertheless, it will have caused disruption, inconvenience and worry.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "All parties must come together again to expel the poison from our politics that provides cynical opportunity to these groups. There must be a political and policing response to these attacks."

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