Mum 'living in fear' after son picks up exploded pipe bomb in Derry
The mother of a six-year-old boy who picked up part of a denoted pipe bomb has described the people who left the deadly device at her home as "vile human beings".
It is understood the device could have been left at the property at Curlew Way in the Waterside area of Londonderry two or three days prior to its discovery.
Some residents recalled hearing a loud bang, but didn't associate it with anything sinister.
The 26-year-old woman, who lives in the house with her six-year-old son and two-year-old twin daughters, had been away from the house for a few days and had just returned.
Too terrified to be identified, the woman explained how her son picked the detonated device up and showed it to his grandmother, who lives next door.
She said: "The children were out in the garden playing and my son showed this piece of copper with jagged bits to my mother.
"He came into me with it. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it looked dangerous because of all the jagged edges so I took it off him and put it up away out of his reach.
"I didn't think for a second it was a pipe bomb, but I was talking to my mother and that's what she thought it might have been.
"It was on my mind and it was after I put the three children to bed that I decided to ring the police who came out. It was then we found out it really was a pipe bomb.
"My son has no idea what it was and I am never going to tell him. I don't want him frightened.
"I am still shaking at the very thought of what could have happened to him. I am sickened to think that some kind of a vile human being would do that.
"When I think of what could have happened to my son it makes me angry, but I am scared to be here now too. I haven't stopped thinking about how much danger we were in.
"Why would anyone do this to us? I am a mother with three young children. It is disgusting."
The woman suspects the attack was sectarian, as she has Catholic friends.
"I want to leave, I don't want to live somewhere where it isn't safe to have Catholic friends and Protestant friends because I can't think of any other reason why someone would attack me," she said.
Police investing the attack described it as "reckless". Detective Inspector Michael Winters said: "Our enquiries are at an early stage. However, it appears the device had detonated prior to it being lifted by the young boy.
"While this was not a live device, the fact a young boy found it and lifted it shows the blatant disregard by those responsible for leaving it there. It was completely reckless.
"I also want to take this opportunity to remind the public if anyone comes across anything suspicious, please call police immediately."
There was widespread political condemnation of the attack and appeals for information to be passed to the police.
DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton said: "People in this area are angry that once again a young family has been targeted in this way because this is a very close community and an attack on one is an attack on everyone.
"It is particularly sinister in that this device was found by a six-year-old boy who was put in danger.
"At that stage the device had already exploded but the child would not have known that.
"We are very lucky we are not dealing with a real tragedy here because these devices have the capability to cause serious injury or death."
SDLP councillor Martin Reilly is supporting the woman in her quest to be re-homed.
He said: "I spoke to this young mother who has been very badly shaken up by this incident. That was such a terrifying ordeal for her and there is no justification for putting a deadly device at the home of a young family.
"This isn't the first time we have had an explosive device left in a built-up area. At the end of March we had an explosive device left at a home in nearby Montgomery Close."
Sinn Fein councillor Sandra Duffy, who chairs the Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership, added her condemnation.
"It is clear that whoever carried out the attack had absolutely no concern for people living in the area and their only aim is to try and exert coercive control of the people residing there," she said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at Strand Road on 101, quoting reference number 2084 of 21/05/19.