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Policeman's girlfriend injured in east Belfast explosion

A policeman's girlfriend was injured today when a bomb exploded under her car as she left his Belfast home.

The 38-year-old woman was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital for minor injuries and was later discharged.

She was reversing a red MX5 sports car out of the drive of the semi-detached house at Kingsdale Park in east Belfast when there was an explosion under the front of the car.

The blast, at 7.30am, sent shockwaves through the quiet residential area less than half a mile from police headquarters.

A major security operation was mounted in the area, with army bomb disposal experts examining the car that was abandoned half in the drive of the house and half in the road.

Damage could be seen under the front of the vehicle.

Police erected screens to prevent onlookers watching them as they carried out an inch-by-inch search of the scene.

East Belfast Assembly member and Ulster Unionist party leader Sir Reg Empey said after being briefed by police: "It seems some sort of device exploded under her car as she backed out of the drive.

"This is a quiet residential area and if it is the case of a police officer being targeted, I think it is a very serious development."

He said it put into perspective the arguments under way about the devolution of policing and justice.

"We are arguing the toss and we are giving ammunition to the dissident republican agenda."

Policing Board member Ian Paisley jnr condemned the attack.

"This is a serious development. It shows the intent of those responsible.

"If it turns out to be dissident republicans, it confirms the view that they're prepared to go to any length to kill a police officer or someone else in the community to make their point."

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