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Our sons could have been killed in dissident grenade attack

The mothers of two young boys who were standing near police when a grenade was thrown have said they could both have been killed.

Christian Kelly, who has special needs, was standing with Aodhan Donnelly (8) when a man hurled the military-grade device at officers attending a bomb alert in the Creggan area of Londonderry on Monday.

Aodhan’s mother Iris said words failed to describe the actions of those behind the attack.

“My son Aodhan and his wee friend were sitting on their bikes talking to one of the four police officers when the grenade was thrown at them,” Ms Donnelly said.

“The police officer shouted at Aodhan and his friend ‘grenade, run'.

“Aodhan grabbed his friend and pulled him away.

“Relatives of Aodhan's friend then arrived on the scene and calmed the two boys down before they brought Aodhan home to me.

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“When I was told what had happened I couldn't believe it.

“Whoever threw that device saw that Aodhan and his friend were standing right beside the policeman they were aiming at.

“I didn't push him to tell me anything, I just let him talk about it on his terms, but I can say he was a very frightened little boy.

“Who in their right mind would throw a hand grenade at a policeman talking to two wee boys?

“I had a sleepless night over this. I couldn't take my eyes off Aodhan as he slept in bed.

“The person who threw this hand grenade had a clear and unobstructed view and they must have seen Aodhan and his friend there,” she said.

Christian’s mother Emma said she was horrified at what could have happened if the device had gone off.

She also insisted the bomber would have seen the children before he threw the grenade.

“They didn't care, didn't care who was standing there.

“They saw them standing there and threw it anyway.

“Somebody could have been knocking on my door today to tell me my wee one was dead.

“I'm scared, but more angry.”

Police said that there would “probably” have been deaths if the lethal anti-personnel grenade had exploded.

Dissident republicans are being blamed for the attack.

Condemning the attack, Chief Supt Steven Martin added: “It is only by sheer good fortune that we do not have a fatality on our hands.

“I am appalled at the callous disregard and recklessness of those who threw the grenade at police, especially as a number of children were close to officers at the time of the attack.”

There was another alert after a suspect object was found in Foyle Street in the city yesterday.

Police responded to a report that an object had been left just yards away from the Guildhall where the final councillors were being elected.

The bus station was closed to the public for a few hours, but normal bus services continued and the Guildhall did not have to be evacuated as police carried out searches in the area.

The PSNI also received a hoax call to a suspicious item left at a health centre in the Waterside.

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