Thursday 19 April 2018

Explosive device found in city could have killed

Michael McHugh

An explosive device discovered in a busy shopping area of Belfast city centre could have caused death or serious injury, police said.

A controlled explosion was carried out and businesses evacuated overnight as residents, customers and businesses owners were shut out during last night's alert at Bradbury Place.

The streets are usually thronged with restaurant-goers, night clubbers or businessmen during the day but they were replaced by police cordons and officers on guard.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Inspector Eugene King said: "This was a viable device which was capable of causing death or serious injury and I would appeal to the community for information about the people who left this deadly device in the heart of our city."

Dissident republicans have been responsible for a string of bombings and shootings in the past, many aimed at members of the security services.

Last night's device was made safe by army technical officers and taken away for examination.

Insp King thanked local businesses and residents for their patience during the alert. Many members of the Chinese and migrant communities live in the area, as well as university students.

Less than a mile from the bottom of the Lisburn Road and Bradbury Place is the City Hospital. Two busy train stations and the city's main bus centre are also a short distance away.

SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell condemned those responsible.

"Businesses in Belfast, and in Bradbury Place where many of bars and restaurants are located, are fighting hard against the current economic tide and do not need the added pressure of competing against viable devices," he said.

"Many workers had to wait several hours this morning before they could get to their place of work. That's unacceptable."

Alliance Party Stormont assembly member Anna Lo said she could not comprehend the mindset of those responsible for this bomb.

"How can anyone believe that violence is ever the answer? It was never right during the Troubles and it is still not right," she said.

"Many of the businesses in the area have faced a hard couple of years since the economic downturn and the last thing the need is for their trade to be disrupted by incidents such as this."

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