DETECTIVES from the PSNI’s Terrorist Investigation Unit have arrested a man over a foiled murder bid on a serving police officer.
The 27-year-old man was arrested in the village of Eglinton earlier this evening as part of a follow up investigation into the attempt to set a device off under the officer’s car.
He has was arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act and taken to the serious crime suite in Antrim for questioning.
It brings to four the number of people held on both sides of the border on suspicion of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of explosives with intent to endanger life.
In the early hours of this morning, police were alerted to suspicious activity outside the officer’s home at Glenrandel in Eglinton.
The alarm was raised around 2.45 am and 15 families in the street, including an elderly couple were evacuated from their homes.
Army Technical Officers were tasked to the scene and revealed that they found a booby trap bomb attached to the underside of the officer’s car which was parked outside his home.
His wife is also a serving PSNI officer and both work in the community say police chiefs “trying to keep the public safe”.
The device was later made safe and area was re-opened to traffic and residents were allowed to return to their homes.
While the PSNI were conducting inquiries into the dissident republicans behind the murder, Gardai made a significant inroad into catching the bombers.
Around 4 am they stopped a car carrying three men in their 20s and 30s in the village of Killygordon in east Donegal shortly after the vehicle crossed the border.
Garda forensic teams also carried out searches on Thursday evening linked to a foiled bomb attack.
Boiler-suited Gards with metal detectors and sniffer dogs combed fields around Killygordon in the Finn Valley area.
They are looking for any discarded items which may have thrown from a car.
The searches are in response to the arrests of three men earlier today in Co Donegal in connection with the discovery of a bomb under a policeman’s car in Derry this morning.
Two suspects were taken for interview to Letterkenny Garda station while a third was being detained in Milford Garda.
They are being questioned under the Offences Against the State Act for up to 48 hours.
The Garda’s Special Detective Unit is liaising with the PSNI’s Terrorist Investigation Unit based at Derry’s Maydown station over the arrests.
Earlier today, Derry police chief Supt Mark McEwan said the bomb bid was an “attempt to murder and cause mayhem”.
He said: “The target of focus of the investigation is violent dissident republicans.
“This could have been a tragedy.
“This officer serves the community day and daily. He keeps people safe. Someone has crept in and planted a bomb underneath his car.
“I have spoken with the officers and they are calm and dealing with it in a professional way.”
Supt McEwan added: “This device had the potential to harm not only the officer but anyone in that residential area and those involved have shown a blatant disregard for human life.
“This is yet another example of the cowardly elements in our society who show no regard for the safety of local residents and the police officers who serve their community.
“We are obviously very thankful that this attack was thwarted and that no one was injured here this morning.
“Clearly there are people out there in today’s society who are still intent on causing murder and mayhem.
“Glenrandel remains closed to traffic and residents and approximately 15 houses had to be evacuated during the early hours.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the local residents for their patience and co-operation and assure them that we are taking every sensible step to keep them safe and minimise any further impact on them.
“The investigation is at an early stage and we would appeal for anyone who may have been in this area around 2.45am this morning or in recent days who may have witnessed anything untoward or noticed any persons acting in a suspicious manner.
“We are also appealing for anyone who may have witnessed any vehicles seen leaving the area at speed shortly after 2.45am to contact us.
“Anyone with information should contact detectives at Strand Road on 101 or alternatively contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
There has been widespread condemnation of the attempt to murder the police officer.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan condemned those behind the attack.
“These people are capable of using a viable device, but they don’t actually have a viable political strategy, no coherent message and it is not what the community want,” he said.
“Let’s be very clear about the support and sympathy and solidarity that we are offering to the police officer concerned.”