Assassination attempt on Belfast policeman foiled as live bomb is found attached underneath car outside his home

Assassination attempt on Belfast policeman foiled as live bomb is found attached underneath car outside his homeBomb found underneath car parked near off-duty policeman's home
Police in east Belfast said it was a clear assassination attempt
Policeman's home is also close to Police Service of Northern Ireland HQ

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UPDATED:

19:55 GMT, 30 December 2012

A bomb has been found under the car belonging to an off-duty policeman in east Belfast.

The booby trap device was detected by the policeman himself around 2pm this afternoon, near his home off a busy road in the Northern Irish capital.

No-one has yet taken responsibility for the device, which police said was a clear attempt to kill, but fingers have been pointed at dissident republicans.

Assassination attempt: Police evacuated residents and closed Upper Newtownards Road whilst army technical experts dealt with a 'viable bomb' found under the police officer's car outside his home

Assassination attempt: Police evacuated residents and closed Upper Newtownards Road whilst army technical experts dealt with a 'viable bomb' found under the police officer's car outside his home

The car was parked off Newtownards Road is one of the busiest
arterial routes into Belfast. The officer's home is close to Police Service of Northern Ireland headquarters at Knock and the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.

Residents of nearby homes were evacuated to a local church while army technical officers worked to make the scene safe.

Police believes murder attempt is the work of rebel republicans who 'don't care who they attack and don't care who they kill,' Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said.

'They are simply anti-peace and determined
to carry on bringing pain and devastation to families and communities
by maiming and killing.'

He said it was very fortunate that the device was detected in time so that no-one was killed or seriously injured.

Dismantling: It is believe the policeman discovered the viable bomb himself around 2pm this afternoon after which security forces were called

Dismantling: It is believe the policeman discovered the viable bomb himself around 2pm this afternoon after which security forces were called

'Initial investigations would
indicate that this was a viable device placed below an officer's car
sometime in the last 48 hours.

Belfast Bomb

'It was clearly intended to kill the
police officer. His family and neighbours in the vicinity were also put
at risk of serious harm.

'Obviously there are people out there who are still intent on causing murder and mayhem.'

Terry Spence, chairman of officers' representative body the Police Federation, said the device was planted by 'cowardly thugs'.

‘This was an attempt to murder an off-duty police officer,’ he said.

‘But this attack is no great
surprise. Scores of police officers have been forced from their homes in
the last 12 months because of terrorist incidents. This is just the
latest of many.

‘It reinforces the need for officers to be extra vigilant.’

Democratic Unionist Assembly member for East Belfast Robin Newton condemned those responsible.

‘Those who placed this potential bomb have nothing to offer the community except heartache and sorrow,’ he said.

‘The thugs who carry out this type of
an action are rejected by the vast majority of the community as being
wicked and evil … who care nothing for innocent life.

‘I pay tribute to the PSNI officers
and the bomb squad officers who risked their lives to make the area safe
not only for the intended victim but all who live in close proximity.’

After police evacuate the street, an army bomb disposal expert prepares to move in to examine the bomb on Newtownards Road in east Belfast

Moving in: After police evacuate the street, an army bomb disposal expert prepares to examine the bomb on Newtownards Road in east Belfast

Breathing out: The bomb expert examines and secures the booby trap bomb found underneath the car

Breathing out: The bomb expert examines and secures the booby trap bomb found underneath the car

East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris
Lyttle said: ’My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the officer and
family directly affected by this cowardly and futile act and the people
working to restore safety to all residents in the area.

NORTHERN IRELAND POLICE ATTACKS

Ronan Kerr

Northern
Irish dissidents have repeatedly targeted security force members in
recent years in a bid to destabilise the peace process.

In November long-serving prison officer David Black, 52, was shot dead in a motorway ambush in Co Armagh as he drove to work.

The attack was claimed by a group styling itself the 'new IRA'
which was formed in the summer when a number
of splinter groups joined forces.

In April 2011 newly qualified police
officer Ronan Kerr (top right), 25, died when a booby trap car bomb
exploded under his vehicle at his home in Omagh.

‘Those behind this incident have
absolutely nothing to offer the local community and are only intent on
taking Northern Ireland back to a time of deep division through violent
attacks.

‘Anyone, from whatever background,
considering an attack on the PSNI should remember that officers have the
full support of the vast majority of people across Northern Ireland.

'Any attack will only serve to risk misery to families and resolve the
will of this community to reject violence in favour of peace.’

SDLP Policing Board member Conall McDevitt said the murder bid was a 'cynical and deplorable act'.

‘Those seeking to target police
officers are undermining not only the stated will of the people of
Ireland who have long since rejected violence, but also the desire for a
new beginning for policing in the North, which is shared by the
majority of citizens,’ he said.

Double threat: The bomb was discovered this afternoon close to the policeman's home which is located near the Police Service of Northern Ireland Headquarters

Double threat: The bomb was discovered this afternoon close to the policeman's home which is located near the Police Service of Northern Ireland Headquarters

Chief Constable Hamilton appealed for anyone with information on the latest murder bid to come forward.

'Attacks on police officers are attacks on the entire community and cannot be allowed to continue,' he said.

'We know there are people within our communities who know who did this, we know there are people out there who know exactly what is being planned.

'The community can be assured that the Police Service of Northern Ireland will do everything possible within the law to bring those responsible to justice.

'However it is very important that we get information about this incident quickly. We need support from members of the public in bringing those responsible to justice.'

Police want to hear from anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity on the Upper Newtownards Road between the junction of Cabinhill Park and Knock Road between Friday afternoon and lunchtime today

Detectives can be contacted on 0845 600 8000 or information can be passed anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555111.