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PSNI officer hurt in car bomb blast

A Catholic police officer has been seriously injured when a bomb exploded under his car in Co Antrim

It is thought a car bomb detonated as the man, understood to be stationed in the Greater Belfast area, drove along the Milltown Road in Randalstown early this morning. The incident was reported to police at 6.37am.

A PSNI spokeswoman said he was seriously injured and was taken to Antrim Area Hospital for treatment.

She said: “We can confirm that a serving police officer has been seriously injured following an explosion. We are appealing for information or witnesses to any suspicious activity in the Milltown Road area to contact police immediately.”

A Northern Trust spokeswoman this morning declined to give the condition of the officer, who is a Catholic.

The area around where the explosion occurred was cordoned off as Army Technical Officers examined the vehicle and surrounding area.

While no-one has admitted responsibility, it is feared dissident republicans could be behind this morning’s explosion — making it the second time in a matter of months they have successfully targeted PSNI members in such a way.

In October, a car bomb exploded in a quiet residential area of east Belfast, injuring a 38-year-old woman — the partner of a police officer stationed at Holywood.

The woman was reversing a red MX5 sports car out of the driveway of her Kingsdale Park home when the device exploded at about 7.30am on October 16.

She was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital for minor injuries and was later discharged.

The bomb was fitted under the front passenger side of the two-seater car and police later confirmed it was a “viable device” that could have caused serious injury or even killed.

Chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board condemned those behind this morning's attack.

Barry Gilligan said: “I understand that the officer has been taken to hospital and our thoughts are first and foremost with him and his family.

“This was an attempt to murder and those behind this attack cannot be allowed to succeed in bringing any further terror to our community. I would urge anyone with information on this incident to pass it to the police.”

SDLP South Antrim MLA Thomas Burns said he hoped the injured officer will make a speedy recovery.

He said: “People in Randalstown and everywhere else want policing and want officers to be able to live openly in all communities. We are simply not going to allow a handful of criminally-minded people to set back all we have achieved.”

Alliance leader David Ford MLA has expressed his outrage at the explosion, which he described as a “murderous attack”.

“The people behind this bomb have no policy and strategy except to cause death and disruption,” he said.

“I am outraged that a very small number of people still believe that using violence will achieve anything. They are seeking to drag us backwards into the dark days of the troubles.

“The community will need to stand united, just as the community stood united following the murders nearby at Massereene barracks last year. I am confident that the community will do so. I would urge anybody who has any information about this attack to contact the police. These people must be stopped to allow this country to continue to live in peace.”

The threat level against police officers has been increasing with PSNI staff warned to check under their vehicles before embarking on a journey.

In November, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that dissidents have added police contract workers to their list of targets, along with judges, civilian PSNI staff and police officers’ families.

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