Army bomb experts defuse pipe bomb device at Whitewell Road in north Belfast

Army bomb experts defuse pipe bomb device at Whitewell Road in north Belfast

DETECTIVES from the PSNI’s Terrorist Investigation Unit (TIU) are probing a suspected bomb attack on police in north Belfast.

Army bomb experts were tasked to the scene on the Whitewell Road in north Belfast late on Wednesday night.

A number of people were moved from their homes and given shelter in St Mary’s Star of the Sea church while the device was examined.

The ATO later made safe what they described as a “viable pipe bomb device”.

One theory TIU detectives are investigating is the possibility that the pipe bomb had been thrown at a patrol in the area.

A security operation continued on Thursday at a nearby fitness centre but it has since ended.

Police have been on high alert following a stepping up of a terror campaign by dissident republicans.

Investigations are ongoing into four letter bombs sent through the post since last Friday two senior police officers, the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and a Public Prosecution Service in Derry.

All were viable devices which were made safe by ATO.

Last week, the PSNI said a pipe bomb found during a security alert in Newtownabbey on Wednesday, October 23, was an attempt to murder police officers.

Police received a call around 10 pm on Wednesday night to say a device had been thrown at a patrol in Mill Road.

As a result, a number of homes were evacuated after midnight.

Subsequent inquiries by the PSNI found two suspicious objects during a search.

One was a viable device while the other was a hoax.

Following an examination of the scene by Army technical officers, evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes just around 5 am on Thursday morning.

Newtownabbey police boss Chief Inspector Stephen Reid said: “This device was clearly designed to kill police officers.

“And we are very fortunate no-one was killed or injured.

“Had it exploded it could have killed or maimed anyone close by, police officers or local people alike.

“Those responsible showed total disregard for the local community and put the lives of local people in the area at risk.

“I would like to thank to local residents for their patience and support throughout this operation and I want to reassure them that we will not be deterred by this attack.”

Detectives have appealed for anyone with information about these attacks is asked to contact them on 0845 600 8000.

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