Northern Ireland

Pipe bomb thrown at PSNI vehicle in west Belfast

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCouncillor Tim Attwood says the device "bounced-off" the police vehicle

A pipe bomb has been thrown at a police vehicle in west Belfast.

It happened in Culmore Gardens at 19:30 GMT on Monday, while police were responding to a report of a burglary that they now believe was a hoax.

The device did not explode and no-one was injured.

PSNI chief superintendent George Clarke, who visited the scene on Monday night, described it as an "utterly reckless" attempt to kill his officers.

Reinforcements

"When the police attended the area, from the shadows it would appear someone threw what we believe now to have been a viable pipe bomb and we are extraordinarily fortunate that what was clearly a determined attack to murder police officers, didn't lead to the death or serious injury of a police officer," he said.

The chief superintendent said after the bomb was thrown, police withdrew from the scene for about 30 minutes, in case of a further attack, but returned with reinforcements, including Army bomb disposal officers and the PSNI helicopter.

He explained that the officers withdrew to give themselves sufficient time and distance to "plan our response and respond efficiently and effectively".

Mr Clarke said he was aware of concerns about the police leaving the scene of the attack but insisted that their actions had to be seen the in context of the threat posed to PSNI officers.

"The danger that the community were put in lies fully at the feet of the people who threw this device," he added.

A number of residents in the street had to leave their homes for a time while Army bomb disposal officers examined the device.

Sinn Fein councillor Emma Groves said the alert had caused a lot of disruption for people living in the area.

Annoyance

"It has been totally inconvenient for people. I totally condemn this," she said.

"The only thing this has achieved is annoyance and upset for the people and residents living in our community.

"People don't want this anymore, they don't want to have to lift their kids and take their kids out into a freezing cold evening.

"The people in this area certainly don't support this sort of behaviour," the councillor added.