Northern Ireland

Belfast suspected grenade attack 'an attempt to kill or injure police officers'

Milltown Row, west Belfast
Image caption There is an ongoing police operation in west Belfast following the attack on Milltown Row

The remnants of a suspected grenade found after an object struck a police landrover has been described by the PSNI as "an attempt to kill or injure police officers".

Police said a "loud bang" was heard after the car was hit by an object on Milltown Row in west Belfast at about 02:00 GMT on Wednesday.

The officers in the vehicle were not injured and the car was undamaged.

It is believed dissident republicans were responsible.

Ch Supt Jonathan Roberts said it was a "despicable act".

He said officers in the Falls Road area were "conducting routine patrols" when the object struck the vehicle.

"A police operation was immediately implemented to ensure the safety of everyone in the area and that operation is ongoing at present.

"The remnants of a suspected grenade have been recovered and taken away for forensic testing.

"Further searches are being conducted this morning to ensure there are no other devices present which could endanger members of the public," Ch Supt Roberts added.

He appealed to the public for information.

'Depressing'

Chief Constable Simon Byrne tweeted that the attack was a "stark reminder of the stresses and strains" on the police service.

Mr Byrne later attended a private meeting with the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) during which he gave members an update on the grenade attack.

NIPB chair Anne Connolly expressed support for the officers who were targeted.

"We are grateful that our officers escaped unharmed but it is depressing that this ongoing threat still exists," she said.  

"Those responsible for this attack have absolutely nothing positive to offer and the police need the support of the community in finding those behind it.  

"We urge anyone with information to pass it to the police or anonymously through Crimestoppers."

The Police Federation of Northern Ireland (PFNI) said society needs to "isolate" those who wish to "drag us back to the past".