Northern Ireland

People moved due to Belfast bomb may be able to return

Police have said parts of north Belfast's Antrim Road will remain closed until after the evening rush hour.

However, they have said they will work to allow people who have been moved from their homes due to a bomb alert to return to them before then.

On Wednesday, police said a bomb left outside a shop was an "anti-personnel device" designed to kill people.

About 50 families spent a second night out of their homes on Wednesday.

Chief Superintendent Mark Hamilton said making sure the area was safe was a "slow, methodical, painstaking process".

"I wouldn't have taken the steps I have taken if I didn't believe there was an enormous risk, firstly to members of the public and then to my staff.

"There's been people in this community who have deliberately planted a bomb in this area and their only purpose was to murder people.

"Then you add to that the recklessness of leaving a device in an unstable condition which could have exploded."

On Wednesday, CH Supt Hamilton said police officers had been called to an Xtravision shop on Sunday night.

"One line of inquiry is that perhaps this bomb was in place on Sunday night for those police officers, to kill them as they went about their business," he said.

"The first call we got was on Monday afternoon and it was some 24 hours later before we got sufficient information to bring us to the Xtravision, to try and go forward and search for this bomb and make it safe."

A second object found by police on Wednesday night was a bomb component and may have been part of the original bomb.

Police have said hundreds of people would have walked past the bomb.

The alert, which is close to Antrim Road police station, began after a series of calls claiming to be from dissident republican group Oglaigh na hEireann.

Some families who were moved from their homes were put up at Fortwilliam and McCrory Presbyterian Church overnight.

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness said those behind the attack had no support whatsoever in the local community.

Image caption The device was found on the Antrim Road

"People are enraged by what has happened and they're outraged by the fact this bomb had lain there for at least 24 hours if not longer," he said

"Its main purpose was not to destroy property, but to kill people and kill police in particular - that is an attack on the whole community."

Up to 100 homes and businesses have been evacuated. The road has been closed since 1600 GMT on Tuesday.

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