'The work of cowards' - Police officer hospitalised after drive-by dissident shooting, one arrest made
Politicians and police condemn attack branding it, 'the work of cowards'
A police officer is recovering after being shot and wounded in north Belfast.
It happened on Sunday night at around 7.30pm at Edenderry filling station on the Crumlin Road.
It is understood the PSNI officer was shot in the arm after a number of shots were fired from a car.
He was rushed to hospital where and was last night undergoing emergency surgery.
The Crumlin Road has been closed while officers investigate.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton said: "This was a very concerted attack on our officers - a very concerted attempt to murder them.
"Our main line of enquiry at the minute is violent dissident republicans.
"One arrest has already been made."
The car that police believe was used in the attack was later photographed by the Belfast Telegraph.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said there was "no excuse for such criminality" while Arlene Foster described it as "the work of cowards".
I condemn tonight's shooting in North Belfast & injury to PSNI officer. No excuse for such criminality. I wish the officer a full recovery. pic.twitter.com/MCLDjvhkbt— Charlie Flanagan (@CharlieFlanagan) January 22, 2017
Utterly condemn the shooting of a police officer in North Belfast - the work of cowards. Praying they make a full recovery.— Arlene Foster (@DUPleader) January 22, 2017
I appeal to anyone who has information about the shooting to contact the PSNI immediately. My thoughts are with the officer and his family.— James Brokenshire (@JBrokenshire) January 22, 2017
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "I utterly condemn this outrageous and cowardly act.
"Anyone with any relevant information should pass it on to the PSNI immediately.
"I hope the officer involved makes a full and swift recovery."
Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds said it was a despicable act.
Mr Dodds said: "This is a deeply disturbing incident which echoes back to the kind of terrorism we used to face on a daily basis.
"My thoughts are with the officer who has been injured and I pray that the injuries sustained are not life-threatening and they can make a full recovery.
"These are scenes that we should all want to move away from in Northern Ireland. We must be mindful how a threat to the future of the political institutions can create a vacuum, which terrorists such as these will seek to fill.
"We must all stand against those who wish to use threats, intimidation and violence to further their political ends.
"It is vital we all stand against such activity and work to move Northern Ireland forward."
Nationalist SDLP assembly member Nichola Mallon said those responsible were calculating criminals, intent on destabilising a community which continues to make strides toward reconciliation, who will be rejected by local people.
She said: "Those responsible for this attack, not only on the individual involved, but on the progress that north Belfast has made must be brought to justice.
"This community has rejected the men of violence before and it will do so again. There will be no cover given to those who seek to destabilise our progress and bring mayhem back to our streets."
Mark Lindsay, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, confirmed the officer was shot in the arm during a terrorist gun attack.
He said: "This is an appalling act, and I wish to condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
"This attack on the life of an officer is a stark reminder of the determination on the part of terrorists to murder and maim police officers.
"They believe that by causing great grief to a family they are somehow advancing their warped and outdated plan. The wider community will be outraged by this attack on one of their police officers.
"The police serve the entire community and wounding one individual is an attack on the entire community."
He said the attack underlined the fragility of the peace.
"It's one reason why the threat level here remains classed 'severe' which means a terrorist attack is highly likely.
"Officers already exercise great vigilance and I would appeal to them to remain at high alert."
Senior Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said it was a drive-by shooting and the officer's injuries were not life-threatening.
"I hope that the injured officer will make a full and speedy recovery," he said.
"Those responsible for this attack are the same people who are attacking the local community.
"They have absolutely nothing to offer society and need to call a halt to these activities immediately.
"I would call on anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI."
The attack comes as Northern Ireland prepares for fresh elections after the collapse of powersharing.
Former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned in protest over a botched green energy scheme which is predicted to leave taxpayers millions out of pocket.
Dissident republicans opposed to peace have killed police, prison officers and soldiers in the past.