Explosive device removed by Northern Ireland police investigating attempted murders

 

What is believed to be a bomb found by police investigating the attempt to murder three officers in West Belfast has been taken away, police said.

The device was found in Dunmurry as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) conducted follow up searches after a gun attack narrowly missed police attending a call for help.

Residents who had been evacuated have been allowed to return to their houses.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "What is believed to be an explosive device has been taken away for further forensic examination.

"All residents have been returned to their homes."

Up to six shots were fired after police were lured to a bogus burglary in the Twinbrook area on the edge of west Belfast on Thursday.

The gun attack is being treated as attempted murder by police.

A 26-year-old man arrested on Thursday night remains in police custody.

Ammunition and a number of replica firearms were recovered when police raided a number of properties in Belfast during follow-up operations. They have been taken away for forensic and ballistic examination.

No one was injured but the three officers - two men and a woman who at one point had to take refuge behind bins - were left badly shaken. All three were back at work yesterday.

A window on a car was smashed and residents dragged their children indoors following the attack.

The device was discovered yesterday afternoon in an area of green close to where officers came under attack.

An extensive cordon was put up around the area with armed officers and armoured Land Rovers manning the lines.

Shortly after 7pm a controlled explosion was carried out and the security operation was wound down.

Residents from Foxes Glen have expressed anger at the length of time taken to detect and deal with the potentially lethal device.

"I think it is an absolute disgrace. And what is worse, how did they not find it last night? The police, the forensics in their white suits and sniffer dogs were all in the area last night. I was actually up in the area where the device was found earlier today with my granddaughter who is just five and a half months old.

"I am angry at the people who left it there but, I am also angry at the police for not finding it," said Margaret McGrath, a grandmother of two.

Tina Winchester, who also lives in the estate, said it was fortunate no one was hurt.

"There were kids playing in the area all day. They were out looking yesterday and found nothing, they were back out last night and still didn't find anything. It is terrible," she said.

Jennifer McCann, Sinn Fein MLA in west Belfast, said the community did not support the violent armed groups who planted the device.

"The people in this community are fed up with this type of activity. This is a built-up area in which there are lots of children. It is only by the grace of God that no one was killed or seriously injured," she said.

According to the BBC, a dissident republican splinter group called Oglaigh na hEireann had claimed responsibility.

Dissident republicans have attempted to kill several members of the security forces in Northern Ireland.

Oglaigh na hEireann is a title which has been used by a variety of groups and has been adopted by hardline factions opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process.

PA

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