Miracle escape for teen who lifted bomb thrown at base
The family of a teenager who picked up a lethal pipe-bomb which had been thrown at a police station say he has been left "badly shaken" by the ordeal.
The 17-year-old was among a group of youths and children – some aged just 10 – who found the live device before passing it among one another.
Two pipe-bombs were thrown at Woodbourne police station in west Belfast by dissident republican terrorists on Monday night.
One exploded at around 10.30pm, the noise of which was heard more than five miles away, while the other failed to detonate.
Around 30 minutes after the explosion the young people from the Lenadoon area approached the station gate holding the deadly device. A member of security told them to set it down and run.
Yesterday a relative of the teenager who was holding the bomb when spoken to by security said he was shaken up, having realised he could have been killed.
"He's okay," she said. "He was badly shaken by it but it could have been a lot worse."
His mother was too upset to comment at the family home.
Homes were evacuated overnight and six businesses remained closed yesterday morning as police and Army scoured the area for more devices. A police helicopter hovered overhead as forensic officers carried out investigations.
DUP councillor Brian Kingston said the incident was "a combination of childhood innocence and a deadly terrorist attempt to maim and kill".
Chief Superintendent George Clarke (below) said the attack had "exposed the community to massive risk".
"In doing so they were absolutely reckless as to the consequences for local people and as to the consequences for those children" he said.
"These are not commercially manufactured, stable items, these are extremely volatile, very, very dangerous, utterly lethal devices which could function at any time."
Residents at Woodbourne Crescent were allowed back into their homes just after 3pm yesterday.
There were no reports of any injury or damage.
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers warned yesterday: "These terrorists will not succeed in dragging Northern Ireland back."
West Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Sue Ramsey said those responsible "should listen to the people, stop now before a child or somebody else is killed".
Her party colleagues, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly, also hit out at those responsible.
SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said the community in west Belfast was "shocked and angry".
Policing Board chairwoman Anne Connolly added: "It is deeply concerning that the children who were in the area at the time were left exposed to such terror."