Small explosion at Ulster Unionist offices

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The Independent Online

The headquarters of the Ulster Unionist Party was today rocked by a small blast in Belfast.

The headquarters of the Ulster Unionist Party was today rocked by a small blast in Belfast.

Army bomb disposal experts were called to the offices on the Holywood Road.

It is believed it was a single device and no one was injured.

Ulster Unionist sources said a device was sent to the party leader David Trimble and was opened by a member of staff.

"It appears to have been in a Jiffy Bag and contained matches attached to a video cassette which ignited when it was opened," a source said.

"At this stage it is difficult to know whether there was any significant quantity of explosives.

"Army bomb disposal experts have been examining the device."

It is understood the army has been examining the device in the press room of the UUP's headquarters.

One of Mr Trimble's closest aides, David McNarry was present in the room where the the device ignited.

Mr McNarry said: "We were going through our normal routine of opening the mail and as a member of staff who I was sitting beside was opening a Jiffy Bag and pulling out a cassette, he said: 'What's this?'

"I can say that there seemed to be on the front of the envelope a Church of Ireland (Anglican) reference and logo. Therefore the person opening it seemed to think this was just some kind of promotion material.

"But as he opened it there was a flame which shot out. He dropped it and we immediately evacuated.

"The incendiary device, if that's what it was, seemed to self extinguish. The police and the Army are looking at this device."

Mr McNarry said the package was specifically addressed to David Trimble.

He was thankful no member of the Ulster Unionist staff was hurt.

"A few people have obviously been shaken a bit but nobody has been hurt," he said.

"Whoever is behind this didn't achieve anything. We are back in business. Politics and political life goes on."

Mr McNarry would not speculate on who was responsible for sending the device.