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Sinn Fein councillor drives van with suspect bomb to safety

A Sinn Fein councillor risked his life last night to drive a suspected bomb from a busy garage forecourt just yards from where a group of children were playing football.

Magherafelt councillor Peter Bateson bravely acted when he was told by local people that there was a suspected pipe-bomb which was believed to be strapped to a work van in Toomebridge, last night.

The Sinn Fein man, who lives nearby, arrived at the scene at Blackpark Road before the PSNI and tried to move people away from the scene.

Dozens of children were playing football at a Sean O’Leary’s GAA field which is situated just yards from where the work van was parked.

The alert was raised after a local man noticed that a pipe bomb-like device was strapped to the windscreen wiper of his work vehicle.

It is understood the man had just driven the vehicle from the Markets area of Belfast to the Blackpark Road where he had stopped at a local garage.

It was only when the man had come out of an adjacent shop that he then noticed the suspected pipe bomb which was stuck to the window of the vehicle.

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Mr Bateson said he had decided to move the van because of his concerns surrounding the safety of both the local children and residents of the area.

He said: “There were a lot of children and other people milling around the area so I decided the best thing I could do was get it out of the area.

“There is a football field nearby and there was maybe 40 or 50 children playing there.

“People were starting to gather and were curious.

“The van had been driven from Belfast so I reckoned another 500 yards would not make much of a difference.

“I then drove the van to a bit of waste ground close to a construction site just up the road,” he added.

“It seems that this device was attached in the Markets area rather than at the garage where the local man stopped.

“At this stage it is difficult to know what was behind it,” Mr Bateson added.

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