Letter bomb addressed to Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is intercepted

Staff were evacuated and a stretch of Belfast's Limavady Road was sealed off as the area was made safe

A letter bomb addressed to Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers was discovered on Tuesday at the offices of the First Minister in Belfast. Bomb disposal experts arrived at Stormont Castle after the letter was found in the post room.

Staff were evacuated and a stretch of the city’s Limavady Road was sealed off as the area was made safe.

The discovery was the latest in  a sustained campaign. Letter and parcel bombs have been a tactic of republican and loyalist terror groups since the 1970s, but have seen a resurgence in recent months.

Two letter bombs were recently sent to the police, one in Londonderry and the other to the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland. Another was posted to the Public Prosecution Service in Londonderry. Dissident republicans were blamed in each of these cases.

Ms Villiers, who was in London on Tuesday meeting the former US diplomat Richard Haass, said she “utterly condemned” the attacks.

“If those responsible think that this kind of criminal activity will further any agenda, then they are completely mistaken.”

The Home Office has heightened the threat from extremists opposed to the peace process to “severe” in recent months. They have been responsible for the deaths of two soldiers, two police officers and a prison guard in recent years.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, condemned the action. “Those responsible for sending this, and other devices, through the post have absolutely no regard for the lives of postal workers and staff working in offices,” he said. “They will not further any aim or objective by their vile and callous deeds. Northern Ireland will not be dragged back by terrorists who have nothing but misery to offer.”

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried