Northern Ireland

Three police hurt in West Belfast bomb attack

Media captionMatt Baggott: "They don't care who they attack... who they kill, they're simply here to bring back violence and destruction"

An attack on officers investigating a robbery in West Belfast could have ended in "mass murder", police say.

Three officers were hurt when an explosive device was thrown at them as they attended the reported robbery at a bookmakers on the Shaw's Road.

One officer remains in hospital with serious arm injuries, and was expected to undergo surgery on Saturday.

"This could have ended in a mass murder investigation," said PSNI Chief Superintendent Alan Todd.

Mr Todd said the robbery was reported at about 2000 GMT on Friday and police were called to the scene.

Disregard

"At about 9pm a young man on a bicycle rode past police and threw an as yet unknown explosive device at the officers," said Mr Todd.

The device, possibly a pipe-bomb, exploded on the pavement in front of them and Mr Todd said the device narrowly avoided injuring members of the public.

"What is clear is the people responsible have complete disregard for the community in that area," he said.

"We are very lucky in the circumstances. Here was an attempt to murder police officers."

The area was sealed off while police carried out a follow-up operation.

Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward.