Army safely defuse two letter bombs sent to Northern Ireland police officers

Police believe dissident republicans are behind both devices

Two viable letter bombs addressed to senior police officers in Northern Ireland have been intercepted at Royal Mail sorting offices and safely defused within hours of each other.

A package containing a suspicious device addressed to Matt Baggott, chief contable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), was intercepted at a sorting office in northern Belfast in the early hours of this morning.

Army bomb disposal experts were called to Mallusk, Co Antrim, working through the night to make the device safe.

A second device, addressed to a high-profile officer whose identity has not been revealed, was later discovered at a delivery office in Lisburn.

PSNI assistant chief constable Will Kerr said it is thought that dissident republicans were behind both bomb attempts.

"We are very lucky we are not dealing with a fatality this morning," he told a press conference on earlier today.

"We will continue to deliver a policing service to the people of Northern Ireland irrespective of this threat.

"We have been very successful and we will continue to be successful in disrupting the activities of these small groups."

Police have confirmed that both packages contained a viable device.

The first device had been addressed to Chief Constable Baggott at the PSNI headquarters in Knock, on the edge of Belfast.

Speaking after it was made safe, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said those behind the letter bomb had no support.

"Those responsible for this device have almost no support and have demonstrated a blatant disregard for the safety of those who could have been injured by this callous and reckless attack," she said.

"The chief constable undertakes a challenging role in delivering community policing in a difficult threat environment.

"He and his officers have my full support and I am certain that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland will condemn this disgraceful bomb attempt and others which have taken place over recent days," she added.

Both sorting offices had to be evacuated during the alerts, which each lasted several hours.

A spokeswoman for Royal Mail said there would be a knock-on effect with disruption of services throughout the day.

The threat from dissident republican extremists opposed to the peace process has been deemed severe by the Home Office.

Mr Kerr has also blamed dissidents for pipe bomb attacks on police vehicles in Londonderry and the outskirts of Belfast over the last three days.

He added that there had been a spike in attacks and attempts to kill police officers over the past month but declined to speculate on the reasons for the rise.

Northern Ireland's Justice Minister David Ford has described those responsible for the bomb attempts as "senseless".

Police in the province have appealed for the public to be vigilant and report anything that looks suspicious.

News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities