Children carry unexploded bomb to west Belfast PSNI station
Dissidents widely condemned for ‘reckless’ bid to murder police officers
The area around the Woodbourne PSNI station in west Belfast has been sealed off after two bombs were thrown at the building last night. One of the devices failed to explode.
Young children picked up an unexploded improvised device thrown at a west Belfast PSNI station after a suspected dissident republican attack.
Two devices where thrown at the still heavily-fortified Woodbourne base late on Monday night. One exploded causing little damage but the blast was heard as far away as Lisburn.
The second device was later found by a group of young children aged about 11 and taken to the observation sangar at the front of the station where they were met by a policeman. The device was placed on the ground and the children ran off.
British army technical experts made the improvised device safe a short time later.
Chief Supt George Clarke said the attack was an attempt to kill and maim police officers.
“In doing so they were absolutely reckless as to the consequences for local people and as to the consequences for those children,” he said.
“These are not commercially manufactured, stable items, these are extremely volatile, very, very dangerous, utterly lethal devices which could function at any time.”
Pointing the finger of blame at republican groups opposed to the peace process, Chief Supt Clarke said: “Dissident republicans haven’t moved forward and realised the way to advance any argument is political. No one has come forward to claim [responsibility for] this. I cannot see the logic of throwing bombs at the back of a police station and then leaving an unexploded one for children to pick up.”
Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “I condemn this despicable attack on a police station in west Belfast. Those responsible showed a complete disregard for life and contempt for local people.”
Policing Board chairman Anne Connolly said: “Thankfully those behind this attack failed in their aim to cause serious harm. Those involved showed complete disregard for the safety of the community and in this incident it is deeply concerning that the children who were in the area at the time were left exposed to such terror.”
Local DUP councillor Brian Kingston said residents moved because of the alert had told him what happened.
“The device which exploded went off at about 10.30pm, and I spoke to people in Suffolk estate who witnessed what subsequently happened.
“Around 20 to 30 minutes later, as they were standing at Ringford looking across, they saw a group of young children aged around nine, 10, 11, come round the side of the police station carrying an object,” he told the BBC.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Sue Ramsey said: “Those responsible need to explain what they hope to gain by these stupid and dangerous actions. There is no popular support for their activities in our communities and they should listen to the people, stop now before a child or somebody else is killed or seriously injured.”
SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said: “The lives of our young people should never be placed in such an extremely dangerous position. Those involved cling to the failed and deadly ways of the past. The community will resist them.”