Tuesday 23 July 2019

Three vans hijacked in spate of attacks after bomb

This post office van was also hijacked. Photo: Press Eye
This post office van was also hijacked. Photo: Press Eye

Leona O'Neill

Derry and Belfast were on high alert yesterday after three separate van hijackings and a 'suspicious object' sparked major security alerts less than 48 hours after a car bomb exploded outside the city's courthouse.

The PSNI said last night that a "suspicious object" had been discovered in North Belfast, leading to road closures on the Springfield Road and Lanark Way.

It came after there were three separate van hijackings in Derry.

In the first hijacking, which happened on Creggan's Circular Road at 11.30am, three masked men threw an object into the back of a white Transit van and told the driver to drive to the city centre. In the second incident at around 1.45pm, four masked men hijacked a Royal Mail van and ordered the driver to take it to the Lonemoor Road. It was abandoned there and up to 50 families were evacuated from their homes.

Army Technical Officers carried out several controlled explosions on the abandoned vehicles.

Last night, police responded to a further report of an abandoned Asda van on the Northland Road.

Meanwhile, five men were arrested by detectives investigating the blast in Bishop Street on Saturday evening - four were last night released without charge.

On Saturday evening, masked men believed to have been aligned to the New IRA hijacked a pizza delivery van in Derry, packed it with explosives and abandoned it outside the court building in Bishop Street, where it exploded shortly after 8pm.

Terror: An army robot triggers a controlled explosion in a suspect vehicle. Photo: REUTERS
Terror: An army robot triggers a controlled explosion in a suspect vehicle. Photo: REUTERS

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley told MPs that the bomb had "absolutely nothing to do with Brexit".

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said the attacks were "illogical".

Irish Independent

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