RETURN OF THE CHECKPOINT: POLICE BID TO THWART XMAS BOMB ATTACKS IN BELFAST

Bomber at scene of Cathedral quarter attack last Christmas

Dissidident republican bomber on bicycle at scene of Cathedral quarter attack in Beltast city centre last Christmas

THE PSNI is vowing to crack down on violent dissident republicans in the run up to Christmas.

Police chiefs have motorists heading into Belfast’s city centre to expect disruption this festive season.

Last week the PSNI launched a significant policing operation to combat the ongoing terrorist threat and have already stopped 1,000 vehicles moving in and out of Belfast.

The police are working with various organisations throughout the Christmas period to avoid a repeat of past violence and disruption during the busiest time of year for retailers.

Belfast’s District Commander Chief Supt Nigel Grimshaw said focusing on the dissident threat is high on the agenda.

“As of this moment we’ve stopped something in the order of 1,000 vehicles coming in and out of the city centre.

“We want to do this in a balanced way so that people feel safe but as well as that we want to¬† ensure that people with a more sinister intent don’t get to bring something into the city centre.”

He added: “We’re working with retailers to provide advice, guidance and education about other aspects such as fraud and theft.”

The PSNI is working closely with Belfast’s Chamber of Trade, Belfast city Management and Pubs of Ulster to ensure they create a safe environment for shoppers.

Last Christmas, dissident bombers left a device in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter forcing hundreds of revellers to leave their parties.

The bomber cycled into the city centre from north Belfast and left the device close to bars and restaurants near Talbot.

He then cycled away from the scene in the dead of night.

Bicycle bomb suspect in Cathedral Quarter

Bicycle bomb suspect in Cathedral Quarter

One man in his 40s was later arrested over the incident but was subsequently released without charge.

A number of firebombs were also planted.

One ignited as the bomber tried to leave it in a shop in Cornmarket only for it to detonated prematurely.

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