A NUMBER of homes have been evacuated after a pipe bomb was found at the scene of a murder bid in west Belfast.
The device was found in a wooded area during follow up searches in Foxes Glen, Dunmurry after a gun attack on police who were lured to the area by a bogus burglary call.
Police believe the device was left to explode when officers carried out an investigation into the murder bid.
Army technical officers are at the scene and are examining the device.
Police have apologised for the latest disruption to residents of Foxes Glen.
Detective Chief Inspector Karen Baxter said: “Our aim is to ensure the safety of the local community and police and to protect everyone.
“We would ask the public for their patience and understanding as this policing operation continues.”
Dissident republican terror group, Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) have admitted trying to kill the PSNI officers.
Serious Crime Branch detectives probing the dissident republican murder bid on three PSNI officers in west Belfast found replica firearms and ammunition.
The items were recovered as they carried out searches in the Greater Belfast area as part of the operation on Thursday when a 26-year-old man was also arrested.
The two male and one female officer were responding to a report of a burglary in the Foxes Glen area of Dunmurry were shot at up to six times around 1pm.
Witnesses say the officers dived for cover and crawled on the ground until they reached their own vehicle in a residential area where children were playing nearby.
The officers were left badly shaken but returned to work on Friday.
Police believe the original burglary report was false, and may have been an attempt to lure officers into the area.
Forensic and ballistic examination of the weapons are due to be carried out.
The 26-year-old man remains in police custody at Antrim Serious Crime suite.
The officer leading the hunt for the gunman, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Baxter, said the shots fired were “random and indiscriminate”.
“They were intended to kill police but they could have killed or injured anyone in the area.” she commented.
“Foxes Glen was busy at the time – children were playing and adults were going about their normal business. It is only by good luck that none of them was injured or killed.”
Det Ch Ins Baxter appealed for anyone with information about activity in the wooded area beside Foxes Glen to contact them, as this is where police believe the shots were fired from.
She added: “We are grateful for the support and co-operation of the local community and we want to continue to work with the local community to ensure their safety.”
She also addressed concerns about the length of time it took police to return to the area following the shooting.
“Previous experience has indicated that on many occasions where an attack has been made on police there is often a secondary or additional means of attack in the same area,” she explained.
“As a police presence after such an attack can in itself constitute or increase a risk to the community, on many occasions the decision is taken to reduce that risk by removing police officers from the immediate area.
“We do not believe that the police withdrawal yesterday increased the risk to the community. We also believe that it did not adversely affect the police investigation.”
Condemning those responsible for the attack, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was relieved that none of the officers were hurt.
“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that we still have people who still think that the proper agenda at this stage is to plunge people back to the past,” he said.
“I consider any attack on police officers anywhere in the north of Ireland as an attack on the community.”