Northern Ireland

Family of six escape west Belfast pipe bomb blast

A four-year-girl and a pregnant woman were among six people who escaped injury in a pipe bomb attack at a house in west Belfast on Monday night.

The device exploded in St James Park at about 2000 GMT. Army bomb experts defused another pipe bomb at a house in nearby La Salle Park.

A four-year-old girl was playing in the garden of the St James Park house minutes before the bomb exploded.

No-one was injured but the blast damaged a car and a van.

The pipe bomb had been attached to the front gate of the house and is believed to have had a container of petrol attached to it.

The family have said they have no political links and cannot understand why the house was targeted.

Damien Gallagher, who was in the house at the time, said: "My daughter was playing in the garden with the dog 10 minutes beforehand.

"It scared the life out of her - she's four years of age.

"My sister-in-law, she's seven and a half months pregnant, she was in a terrible state.

Image caption The bomb blew a hole in a van outside the house

"Every one of us was in a terrible state, we just didn't realise what was going on at the time."

The other device had been left on the wall of the house of Liam Shannon, a republican who is chair of the Felon's Club in west Belfast.

"There was children, there was old people - everyone was out in the street (after the explosion),

"Everyone ran out and they all ran out past the second bomb which didn't go off," he said.

Mr Shannon said he did not want to speculate on who was responsible but appealed for no retaliation.

"Regardless of who it was it was a mindless act.

"This thing shouldn't have happened, please God it'll not happen again and from whatever community it came from it was wrong."

'Senseless'

PSNI Inspector Sean Taylor described the incidents as "senseless and indiscriminate".

"It is sheer good fortune that no-one was badly injured," he said.

Image caption Liam Shannon said he did not want to speculate as to who was behind the attack

"Once again our community has been disrupted and the lives of our residents put at risk by a cowardly element intent on causing as much disruption as they can."

Chair of the Lower Falls Residents Association, Robert McClenaghan visited the scene of the explosion.

"It has damaged a works van, so it was powerful enough to blow a hole in the side of the van," he said.

Sinn Fein councillor for west Belfast, Briege Brownlee said those behind the devices had shown "absolute disregard for the community".

"Anybody could have been passing these devices when they went off and this could have had serious consequences with injuries or death."

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