Belfast bomb: Prison officer injured after explosive 'dislodged by speed bump'

A 52-year-old man has been taken to hospital for treatment

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The Independent Online

A suspected car bomb has detonated in Belfast, injuring a prison officer who has been taken to hospital.

A spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told The Independent: "We can confirm that the man injured following the explosion of a device under this van this morning in East Belfast is a serving prison officer, He is 52-years-old and is currently being treated at hospital."

They added: "At this time we believe a device has exploded under a vehicle."

The condition of the man and the extent of his injuries are not yet known.

According to Sky News, police are investigating whether the explosive device was dislodged by a speed bump.

The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 brought an end to three decades of conflict between Catholic and Protestant communities, known as The Troubles. Since then, peace has returned to the region, although a small number of dissident Republicans continue to resist the peace process and engage in armed attacks.

Finlay Spratt, head of the Prison Officers Association told Reuters that the victim of today's attack was a prison officer who worked in a training school rather than in a prison,.

He said: "This is just terrible. What can you say, we have been down this road before. These people have no justification for what they do.".

The alleged attack has been condemned by politicians across both communities in Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said: "There can be no place for such attacks in our society. Those behind attacks like this represent no one and have nothing to offer the community." Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also condemned the attack, saying his "thoughts and prayers" are with the officer.

DUP politician Robin Newton said that the incident: "must be condemned by all right thinking people. This is a despicable act and it is fortunate that we are not talking about serious injury or even a fatality today."

East Belfast MLA, Chris Lyttle, from the mixed-religion cross-community Alliance Party said that the attack was "a sickening echo of the past."

Northern Ireland's First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose father, a police officer, survived being shot in the head by the Irish Republican Army when she was eight, condemned the attack as "disgraceful and despicable".

In 2012, a Northern Irish prison officer was killed in a motorway shooting blamed on militant nationalists - the first murder of a prison officer since 1993.

With additional reporting by Reuters