Belfast bomb 'sophisticated device' with intent to kill

Chris Page reports for BBC Newsline

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Police say the bomb attack on officers in north Belfast was a "sophisticated device with the intent to kill."

Three officers were responding to a call on Duncrue pathway about 21:00 GMT on Saturday when it exploded nearby.

Detective Chief Inspector Karen Baxter said the bomb was left in a place where officers or the public could have been killed.

"Had this device exploded as intended we would've had fatalities this morning," she said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said they found the seat of the blast but have not given details of the type of device or where it was hidden.

Det Ch Insp Baxter said it was too early to attribute responsibility but they were treating it as a "terrorist attack".

"There was a significant degree of planning involved and this was a sophisticated device.

"The people that left this have been reckless with their intentions," she said.

"They don't care who they kill - but the target was very clearly officers."

There had been two previous call-outs to police on Saturday alleging a crime had been committed in the area.

Detective Chief Inspector Karen Baxter and Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine speak to the media at Newtonabbey Police station Det Ch Insp Baxter said police were treating it as a "terrorist attack"

Police said one line of inquiry is whether the officers were lured there.

"The officers were doing a cursory search of the area when the device went off," Det Ch Insp Baxter said.

"It was placed on an extremely busy pathway - I would urge anyone who saw anything unusual in the area in the hours or days before, to come forward."

The area was sealed off for more than 24 hours as searches were carried out by police and bomb disposal experts.

Ch Supt Henry Irvine, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), said it was "only by good fortune" that nobody was killed or badly injured.

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