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Sunday 17 December 2017

Car bomb partially explodes in Belfast

Lesley-Anne McKeown

A BOMB left in Belfast city centre last night partially exploded, police have confirmed.

The viable device, inside a car abandoned near Musgrave police station and the city's courts, detonated just after midnight.

Army bomb disposal experts were at the scene and were working on the vehicle when the blast happened.

There were no reports of any injuries.

It is understood the car's rear windscreen and a door were blown out but the vehicle was not destroyed. No buildings were damaged by the explosion.

Hundreds of people were caught up in the security alert, which was the third to hit Belfast yesterday.

The vehicle was believed to have been abandoned at about 9.30pm at the street level entrance to an underground car park.

People in the nearby Victoria Square shopping centre, cinema and apartment block were told to leave the area and were offered shelter in the Ulster Hall. Some shoppers, who could not access their cars, also had to spend the night at the hall.

Residents were allowed to return home just after 6am but six streets in the city centre remained sealed off.

A spokeswoman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said the security closures were expected to remain in place throughout the morning and would impact on morning rush-hour traffic.

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