ARMY technical officers have carried out a controlled explosion during a bomb alert in east Belfast.
It follows the discovery of a suspicious object at a bin near the Alliance Party office on the Upper Newtownards Road.
The road is closed at its junction with the Beersbridge Road and Grampian Avenue while the security operation continues.
The office is used by east Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long, MLAs and councillors.
Earlier this year the party was targeted for daily protests by loyalists who were angered at an Alliance Party decision to put forward a compromise motion to fly the Union flag on Belfast City Hall on designated days.
Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle described the incident was a “mindless act”.
He told Wendy Austion on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme: “It is also anti-democratic and anti-east Belfast.
“Whether it turns out to a hoax or a viable device, it will not deter myself and my colleagues from working for constituents and for businesses in east Belfast.
“It’s only served to disrupt good people going about their daily business.
“It’s very hard to understand an act of this mindless nature.”
Earlier, a security alert in north Belfast was declared a hoax.
A number of families were forced out of their homes while army bomb experts examined the object at Silverstream Avenue in the Ballysillan area.
Evacuated residents were put up in Ballysillan Leisure Centre before being allowed back home around 5 am.