Belfast Telegraph

Security alert forces residents from their homes

By Dave Whelan

Residents in south Belfast are the latest victims in a series of security alerts across the city - after they were forced from their homes on Tuesday night.

Homes in Kilburn street, off the Donegall Road, had to be evacuated and other residents were moved to the back of their houses while police dealt with a "viable explosive type device".

Despite a series of pipe and letter bomb attacks to key public figures and in areas across the city in recent days – the latest of which, at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday morning, was a false alarm – it is now believed that the device may not have been targeting the community and could have been a discarded explosive mixture.

Local UUP councillor Bob Stoker said that while the circumstances around the situation were still relatively unclear, he believed the alert was raised over an "elaborate firework".

"Certainly there is a level of confusion in the area as to why anyone would target this area and as to who it would be aimed at," he said.

"Although circumstances are still unclear as to what exactly the device was, I don't believe it was linked to the recent high profile attacks, but who knows?

"Whether it was young people experimenting with fireworks or someone looking to provoke a reaction in the area, I utterly condemn anything as dangerous being left in the area.

"Whatever it was, it had the potential to kill or seriously harm someone and those involved are not welcome in the area."

Police confirmed that ATO made the device safe before it was taken away for further examination and residents were allowed to return to their homes shortly after midnight.

Tensions are high in the city following a series of alerts and viable devices targeting prominent figures.

For the second time in two days the postal sorting station in the grounds of Stormont was evacuated due to a suspect package; yesterday's alert was declared harmless although on Tuesday a letter bomb to Secretary of State Theresa Villiers was intercepted.

Similar devices were sent to PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and another senior police officer but were intercepted at postal sorting offices in Lisburn and Mallusk., while the Public Prosecution Service in Londonderry was targeted.

Earlier in the week a Sinn Fein councillor was sent a hoax package and yesterday morning an evacuation of the Belfast law courts was later declared a false alarm.

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