Northern Ireland

'Viable explosive device' found in Lurgan security alert

Sloan Street closed
Image caption An Army bomb disposal expert during the alert in Lurgan

A security alert in Lurgan has ended after police said a suspicious object was a "viable explosive device".

The alert in the Sloan Street area closed two schools, and caused widespread disruption in the County Armagh town.

Police said they believe dissident republicans were responsible for planting the device.

A second alert in Holywood, County Down, earlier on Friday, was declared an elaborate hoax.

Ceara Special School and Carrick Primary School in Lurgan were closed during the alert. A number of homes were also evacuated.

Ch Insp Anthony McNally, PSNI area commander for Craigavon, said: "This device was designed to kill or maim anyone close by, police officers or local people alike.

"Those responsible showed blatant disregard for the local community and put the lives of local people, indeed local children at risk.

"We are very fortunate no-one was killed or injured.

"I would like to thank the local residents and wider community in the area for their patience and support throughout this operation."

The principal of Ceara Special School, Dr Peter Cunningham, said the disruption had been "immense".

Image caption Church Road in Holywood was closed during the security alert

"We were able to prevent the children coming to school because we have a texting service, so we were able to do that very quickly when the PSNI told us to close the school," he said.

"But by that time our children had their uniforms on waiting in their houses all over the Lurgan, Craigavon and Portadown area.

"Our children just don't understand - when they get their uniforms on, it's time to go to school.

"When the bus doesn't come our children, especially those who work under a very strict routine become very anxious, so we have lots of anxious children and equally anxious families."

Holywood Nursery School was closed during the alert in the County Down town. It was caused by a suspicious object that was found in a hedge in Church Road.

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