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Children hand in unexploded bomb after Belfast police station was targeted

Two bombs were launched at a police station in the city, but only one of them detonated

Children as young as nine handed an unexploded bomb to officers in Belfast, after two devices were hurled at a police station.

One of the devices, thought to have been thrown by dissident republicans, exploded outside of Woodbourne PSNI station at 10:30pm last night.

No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

The other bomb failed to detonate and was discovered by a group of children aged between nine and 11, who picked the bomb up and carried it to the side of the building before approaching officers involved in a follow-up security operation.

The police area commander, Chief Superintendent George Clarke, said the children had a lucky escape, with Democratic Unionist councillor Brian Kingston describing the situation as "a combination of childhood innocence and a terrorist attempt to maim and kill".

Mr Clarke said: “Those children may well have picked up the unexploded devices, which are extremely volatile, very, very dangerous, utterly lethal and could function at any time.

“Dissident republicans haven't moved forward and realised the way to advance any argument is political. No one has come forward to claim this (attack).

“I cannot see the logic of throwing bombs at the back of a police station and then leaving an unexploded one for children to pick up.”

Police believe both devices were thrown in a bid to injure officers on duty at the station. Despite one of the devices detonating, a police spokesperson said there have been no reports of injuries.

The incident came after loyalist riots erupted in Belfast, leaving fifty-six police officers injured and causing significant damage to the city centre. Police deployed water cannons and 26 plastic baton rounds in a bid to ease the unrest, which broke out in the Royal Avenue area, close to City Hall during the weekend.

Additional reporting by PA