Belfast Telegraph

Police checkpoints return to Belfast in bid to thwart terror surge

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

Vehicle checkpoints returned to Belfast yesterday as police ramped up the security presence in the city in the run-up to Christmas.

There were a number of checkpoints – commonplace throughout the Troubles – across Belfast following the attempted car bombing of flagship shopping and entertainment complex Victoria Square.

CastleCourt security staff performed checks on every vehicle entering its car park throughout the day. Motorists were asked to open the boots of their vehicles for inspection before being allowed into the complex.

There was also an increased police presence in the city centre, with patrols in place along Royal Avenue and other arterial routes throughout the day.

And the police and Army carried out an extensive search operation in north Belfast yesterday.

PSNI officers cordoned off Jamaica Street in Ardoyne, where the car used in the Victoria Square attack was hijacked, and conducted door-to-door inquiries. Officers looked under vehicles and over garden fences during the operation, which lasted for several hours.

On Monday, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott vowed to use all resources at his disposal to combat the surge in dissident republican activity.

His comments followed the partial detonation of a car bomb close to Victoria Square the previous evening.

A terrified motorist was stopped by three masked men in Ardoyne on Sunday.

The driver's car was loaded with a 60kg homemade bomb and he was ordered to drive the device to the underground car park at the city centre shopping complex.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum insisted shoppers and revellers should not be deterred by the increased security presence.

"We are all aware of the threat that is posed by terrorists," he said.

"Police are committed to keeping communities safe."

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