Thursday 24 May 2018

Belfast bomb suspect may be caught on camera

Chief Constable Matt Baggott (left) and Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr visit the Christmas market in front of the City Hall where they met traders in the wake of last weeks bomb attack in the city
Chief Constable Matt Baggott (left) and Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr visit the Christmas market in front of the City Hall where they met traders in the wake of last weeks bomb attack in the city
(Left to right) Chief Constable Matt Baggott, Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir and Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr visit the Christmas market in front of the City Hall where they met traders in the wake of last weeks bomb attack in the city
Chief Constable Matt Baggott with Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir visits the Christmas market in front of the City Hall where they met traders in the wake of last weeks bomb attack in the city
Chief Constable Matt Baggott with Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir visits the Christmas market in front of the City Hall where they met traders in the wake of last weeks bomb attack in the city

David Young

Detectives hunting the dissident republicans behind a bomb attack in Belfast city centre believe a suspect has been caught on camera.

The individual is one of a number wanted for questioning over Friday night's explosion in the busy Cathedral Quarter district - an area that was packed with thousands of festive revellers.

No-one was injured when the small device detonated outside a popular restaurant, with police having managed to evacuate 1,000 people from the immediate vicinity.

Dissident group Oglaigh na hEireann claimed responsibility for what was the latest in a recent spate of terror attacks by extremist republicans opposed to the peace process.

At the weekend, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) circulated an image of the sports holdall containing the bomb taken moments before it went off.

It was left 150 metres away from where a caller who phoned a bomb warning into a Belfast newspaper claimed it had been placed.

Today, after an extensive trawl through CCTV footage from the scene, a senior officer revealed detectives have obtained an image of a male suspected of involvement in the attack.

It is understood the image is not of the individual suspected of leaving the device on the footpath, but someone else potentially involved in the terrorist operation.

Police are still considering whether or not to release the image publicly, having originally indicated it would be made public.

It is understood legal issues - one being the apparent young age of the male photographed - may prevent its release.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr announced that an image had been obtained.

"We think this is certainly one of our suspects in the investigation into Friday evening," he said.

He urged anyone who may have taken their own social pictures on Friday evening to check the backgrounds for anything suspicious.

"If they are in any doubt contact us and let detectives screen through the footage, let us have a look at it and see if it can help the investigations - it is very important that they do."

Earlier, Mr Kerr joined Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O'Muilleoir on a walkabout in Belfast city centre.

Both officers urged the public to be vigilant over the Christmas and New Year period.

Mr Baggott said the dissidents would not succeed in dragging Belfast and Northern Ireland back to the past.

"These groups are simply reckless, their actions are despicable," he said.

"To bring a bomb into a city centre in the lead up to Christmas is beyond belief really, that is why we do need (public help) - any single piece of information could make a difference to us.

"We are determined to bring these people to justice."

Mr Baggott said police were doing everything they could to keep the city safe, but could not provide a total guarantee that there would not be another attack.

"There are terrorists out there and the terrorist threat has been severe," he said.

"We are doing everything we can to keep this city safe, it is very much open for business."

Press Association

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