POLITICIANS have condemned dissident republican bombers who planted a bomb on one of the busiest nights for bars and restaurants at Christmas.
Hundreds of Christmas revellers had to be be evacuated on Friday evening following an explosion in Belfast City Centre.
DUP MLA Jonathan Bell said it was a “miracle” no one was injured during the attack.
Workers out for dinner and drinks were forced to flee restaurants and bars in the Cathedral Quarter when a device partially exploded.
However, other bars and restaurants in Hill Street, Commercial Court and Donegall Street have remained open and are reporting “brisk trade”.
It is understood the device was left in a rucksack at the rear of St Anne’s Cathedral just off lower Donegall Street.
A number of apartments in the area have also been evacuated as police closed off the area to pedestrians and motorists.
The device went off as police were clearing the area.
It followed a bomb warning to a Belfast newspaper from dissident republican group Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) around 6.45 pm.
Army technical officers are currently at the scene examining the rucksack.
A police sniffer dog has been sent in to the area to try and determine if there are any further devices.
The PSNI’s ‘India 49’ helicopter is hovering above the scene using an infra-red camera.
At this stage their are no reports of any injuries.
DUP MLA Jonathan Craig condemned the attack.
“This was an absolutely reckless incident in Belfast. There was an explosion while the area was being cleared.
“It’s a miracle no one was injured.”
Alliance MLA Anna Lo also condemned those behind the attack.
The southAnna Lo MLA said: “There is no place in our society for those responsible for this bomb.
“They have no regards for the consequences of their actions and do not care if people are injured or killed.
“I am disgusted by their actions. The vast majority of the public have accepted the peace process and do not want to see violence return to our streets. There is no support for those behind this disgraceful attack on society.
“If anybody has any information about those behind this bomb then I would urge them to contact the Police to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”