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Man held over police ambush in North

A 26-year-old man has been arrested after a gun attack on three police officers responding to a call for help in Northern Ireland.

The officers were left shaken after they were lured into West Belfast by a bogus burglary alert, and the police said the gunmen who fired the shots were intent on murder.

A window on a car was smashed and residents dragged their children indoors following the attack in Dunmurry.

The 26-year-old man was arrested last night and a number of searches are currently ongoing in the Greater Belfast area.

Before the arrest, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief inspector Darrin Jones said: ''It is despicable that police officers who were simply trying to give assistance to a person they believed needed them should be attacked so ruthlessly.

''Simply put, this was an attempt to murder three young, professional, dedicated people.

''Three people who were just trying to carry out their duty and serve their community to the best of their ability."

Two policemen and a policewoman were targeted with gunshot.

The response crew was attending a report of a burglary in Foxes Glen at around 1pm yesterday when a number of shots were fired at them. None of the officers was injured but one of the gunshots struck a parked car.

Chief Inspector Jones added: ''Inquiries have established that the original burglary call was bogus and police are treating this incident as an attempt to murder police officers.''

Dissident republicans have been responsible for a number of attacks on members of the security forces in recent times.

The officer appealed for anybody with information to contact police.

''I feel extremely fortunate and incredibly grateful that those responsible for this attack failed in their goal to murder,'' he said.

''We could so easily have been dealing with an unimaginable tragedy had the person or persons who pulled the trigger had their evil way.

''I pay tribute to the three officers for their bravery, their professionalism and their unshakable commitment to the police service and to the community, and I ask people in Twinbrook, Dunmurry and further afield to continue to support us and to let the people behind this reckless attack know that they do not have support and they will not succeed.''

Alliance Party Stormont MLA Trevor Lunn said it was fortunate nobody was hurt

''This just reminds us of the need to show extra vigilance, especially during the G8 when there will be a heightened security level,'' he said.

''The PSNI are there to protect the public and to uphold the rule of law. Any attack on them is an attack on our society.''

Sinn Fein Lisburn councillor Stephen Magennis accused those responsible of a reckless and pointless attack which not only jeopardised the lives of police officers but also local people, including children.

Mr Magennis said: ''Due to the good weather people living in Foxes Glen were sitting outside their homes watching their children playing.

''I was in my back garden when I heard the shooting and rushed into the street to grab my daughter to safety as other parents did the same.

''We are very lucky no-one was injured or killed in this reckless and pointless attack. The bogus reporting of a burglary by dissidents in order to serve their agenda only does a grave disservice to this community.''

He added: ''Those behind the attack need to explain to this community the rationale behind this attack and what exactly it achieved except causing fear and upset for the local residents.''

PA Media