Thursday 22 March 2018

Police guard has lucky escape as dissidents' bomb falls from car

David Young

A police station guard had a miraculous escape yesterday after a car bomb partially exploded as he drove to work through a busy residential area.

The suspected dissident republican murder attempt in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, is the third failed booby trap attack against security forces personnel in the North in less than a week.

It is understood the detonator went off as the civilian police worker drove up a hill on the town's Sweep Road at around 8am, but the rest of the device failed to explode and fell off his car.

The terrorists' intended target was a former policeman aged in his late 50s who now works in the town's police station as a guard.

Local police commander Chief Superintendent Michael Skuce said it was unbelievable the man had walked away unscathed.

"This man got up this morning to go to his normal day's work at Cookstown police station unaware that some callous individuals had placed a viable explosive device underneath his car," he said.

"This device was designed for one purpose -- to kill and injure. Those who planted it showed absolutely no regard for anyone. This is a densely populated and busy area.

"We are fortunate that we are not dealing with a multiple murder here today."

Around 100 residents, a local creche and a number of businesses were evacuated as army bomb-disposal experts made the area safe.

Last week, viable devices planted under the cars of an army major and a policewoman in separate incidents in Co Down, failed to explode.

In another attack last Tuesday, a 200lb bomb left in a hijacked taxi detonated outside a police station in Derry, causing substantial damage but no injuries.

The North's First Minister Peter Robinson said the attackers were trying to take people back to the past and once again bring death and destruction back on to the streets.

"Thankfully they have failed once again but their evil intent must be condemned in the strongest possible terms," he said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described it as a senseless and cowardly attack.

"This incident, like other recent attacks in Derry, Bangor and Kilkeel, do nothing to further any cause and are not just an attack on the individuals concerned but on a society that has made it clear that the road forward is one which has no place for violence in any form," he said.

Irish Independent

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