Northern Ireland: 'Heavy weaponry' used in attempted murder of police officers

The car's armoured plating and bulletproof glass saved the lives of the two officers inside the vehicle

Samuel Osborne
Friday 27 November 2015 16:37 GMT
Bullet holes can be seen in the door
Bullet holes can be seen in the door (PSNI)

Up to eight rounds hit the passenger side of an unmarked police car in a suspected dissident republican gun attack on officers in West Belfast.

Heavy weaponry was used in the attack, puncturing the passenger door and shattering the window, but more shots may have been fired, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.

Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said the car's armoured plating and bulletproof glass saved the lives of the two officers inside the vehicle when it was ambushed on Thursday night.

He said: "What is very clear is that it was significant weaponry to bring into what is a very residential area, lots of housing, people trying to go about their business trying to prepare for Christmas. Anything could have happened; not just police officers injured or killed but children walking about the street.

"Had a round gone through a window anything could have happened.

"This was totally reckless. No consequences thought about by those who perpetrated it."

Police are treating it as an attempted murder.

Following a British Irish Council summit in London, Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness condemned the shooting.

Mr Robinson said: "I deplore it utterly. It is fruitless. Martin and I are totally committed to the way forward, we have agreed on the Fresh Start agreement, we intend to implement it fully. We will not be deviating from that process, no matter what anybody might think they can do by way of violence on the streets, it won't alter the course of our actions today or in the future."

Mr McGuinness said: "I want to join with Peter in unreservedly condemning those who last night attempted to kill two police officers in West Belfast. We have seen people like that involved in the murder of two people in East Belfast.

"These acts have been carried out by criminals, by people who hate the peace process, hate political progress and hate the political institutions.

"They do that against the backdrop of knowing that the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland are in favour of the peace process, democratically expressed not just in the referendum but in countless elections since."

Anyone with information is asked to contact PSNI on 101.

Additional reporting by PA

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