Man sets himself on fire in bungled Belfast attack
Staff member removes explosive device from Golf Madness store in city centre
A firebomber might have suffered burns to his face, neck and hands after a device exploded as he was about to plant it in a Belfast city centre store.
He fled through crowded nearby streets desperately attempting to beat out the flames when the incendiary bomb went off prematurely underneath an anorak-type jacket.
Up to 15 people were inside the pop-up golf store at the time.
Nobody was hurt, but the bomber - a man in his mid-40s wearing a woollen hat — was engulfed in flames and almost certainly badly injured, according to police today.
“We believe this man may require treatment for burns injuries, to neck, face and hands,” said Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum.
Dissident republicans are believed to have been involved in the failed attack, the latest in a series in Belfast in the run-up to Christmas. They tried to blow up an underground car park at the Victoria Centre, the city’s biggest shopping centre, and then abandoned a bomb in a holdall in the Cathedral Quarter last Friday night.
Up to 1,000 people had to be moved from pubs, clubs and restaurants, but only the bomb detonators went off.
Security has been stepped up because of the heightened threat. With three men due in court in Belfast today to face a number of terrorist-related charges - some of them linked to a gun attack on police in north Belfast - checkpoints have been mounted on roads across Northern Ireland.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore condemned the attack and those engaged in similar “criminal” activity.
“It is putting people in very serious danger. This type of activity has got to stop,” he said today.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter also condemned the attack. “Once again terror was inflicted on the ordinary people of Belfast who were out enjoying themselves and celebrating the festive season.”
Additional reporting: PA