Explosive left in west Belfast was targeting armoured police, says top officer
An explosive left on a busy roadside was designed to kill police in an armoured vehicle, a top officer has said.
The device was found in the Pantridge Road area of west Belfast and a number of local residents evacuated after a phone warning was made on Monday.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said the weapon was viable and described it as an explosively formed projectile or EFP.
Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts said the explosive was designed to kill or seriously injure police officers but it could also have killed or maimed anyone going by.
"Those responsible have shown callous disregard for the safety of members of the public and the police officers serving this community," he said.
"We are extremely fortunate that no one was killed or seriously injured. I can assure the local community that police officers will continue to go about their duty and this will not deflect us from doing our job."
Dissident republicans calling themselves Arm na Poblachta reported to The Irish News that they left the device.
Police carried out a number of searches and deployed the helicopter over the area after the phone warning.
A full clearance began on Tuesday morning and the area has since been declared safe.
Chief Supt Roberts thanked the local community f or their patience and understanding.
"Our primary aim throughout the course of this operation has been to keep the local community safe. I understand the security operation caused significant disruption to people in the area, but it was required in order to keep people safe," he said.
"The overwhelming number of people in the community do not want this type of activity and we as a police service will continue to work to bring those responsible before the courts.
"Responsibility for this incident lies squarely on the reckless individuals who placed this device in a built-up residential area."
Chief Supt Roberts said detectives were investigating the reported claim of responsibility for the incident.
But he appealed for a nyone who noticed anyone at a public telephone at the junction of Skyline Drive and the Bellsize Road at around 11.10am on Monday October 30 to come forward.
Officers are also seeking witnesses to suspicious activity around Pantridge Road/Brian's Well Road over the weekend of Friday October 27 to Monday October 30.