Latest dissident attack may lead to slower response times, PSNI officers warn

Dissident republicans used viable device in attempt to murder police officers

The viable device discovered in Craigavon, Co Armagh. Image: PSNI

The viable device discovered in Craigavon, Co Armagh. Image: PSNI

 

The threat of being ambushed by dissident republicans could slow the police response to calls for help from the public, the representative body for PSNI officers has warned.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) said officers will have to exercise even greater levels of caution before setting out to deliver help and assistance.

On Saturday, the PSNI said dissident republicans attempted to murder local police officers responding to a call from a member of the public in Craigavon, Co Armagh. A viable explosive device was discovered.

PFNI chairman Mark Lindsay said: “Tullygally was a vicious attempt to murder colleagues who were responding to a call from a member of the public.

“In fact, it was a come-on, a deliberate attempt to lure them to a place where republican terrorists could mount their ambush.”

On the back of this latest incident, officers would have to be even more cautious, Mr Lindsay said. “No one expects officers to leave themselves vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and that must mean the very real prospect of slower response times.”

He said politicians and community leaders needed to work with the PSNI to rid their communities of “thugs and criminals”.

“For the sake of the vast number of decent people, they should up their game considerably.”

‘Loud bang’

At about midnight on Friday, a loud bang was heard in the Tullygally Road area of the town. Police said that a short time after the bang, they were contacted by a Belfast-based newspaper which said that a call had been made to it claiming a device had been fired at a police patrol, but had missed its target.

Chief Inspector Barney O’Connor said: “We responded along with ATO colleagues and a suspicious object was located. A full security clearance operation was implemented and this is continuing at present.

“At this stage we believe the device to be viable and that this was an attempt by dissident republican terrorists to murder police officers.

“At present it is unclear if the device was fired at a passing patrol or if this attack was set up in such a way as to target those local police officers responding to the area following reports from the public.”

He condemned those behind “this cowardly and despicable act of terrorism”.

“They offer nothing to this community and their actions here do not reflect the wishes of the vast majority of the law abiding residents of this area,” he added.

In a statement on Saturday evening, the PSNI said the device had been taken away for examination and that those evacuated could return to their homes.

‘Devastation’

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley said “the actions of a few mindless individuals could have resulted in a scene of devastation today”.

“Dissident republican activity must be thwarted at all costs,” he added. “Activity like this should not belong within pockets of our society.

“I pay tribute to those police officers involved last night and thank them for their service, in such a frightening situation.

“I hope those responsible face the full weight of the law.

“Therefore I urge anyone with any details to bring that forward to the police.”

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA John O’Dowd said the attempt to kill police officers was “wrong and I condemn it utterly”.

“There can be no place in our society for these type of actions,” he said.

“It has also caused considerable disruption to the local community and I have visited the area and spoken to some of those caught up in it.

“Residents were evacuated from their homes after midnight and the security alert is continuing while searches are carried out.

“Those responsible for this incident have nothing to offer the local community or society as a whole.

“They need to end these futile actions immediately and let the community here live in peace.”