PSNI officers' parents targeted in hoax bomb alerts

Police at security alert on the Lone Moor Road
Image caption One of the hoax alerts was on the Lone Moor Road, at a police officer's parental home

The families of two police officers have been the target of hoax bomb alerts, after suspicious objects were left outside homes in Londonderry.

There have been three security alerts in the city in just over 24 hours.

All three were declared "elaborate hoaxes" and two of them targeted the parents of serving police officers.

A sister of one of the officers told BBC Newsline that the attack on their elderly parents' home has had a "devastating" effect on their family.

'Absolutely disgusting'

The woman, who did not want to be named, said: "It has been a few years since my parents have been targeted.

"It's just totally shocking. I mean, it's disgraceful.

"It's difficult to find words to actually explain it, but it is absolutely disgusting."

The latest alert began after a suspicious object was found at the Lone Moor Road at about 10:45 BST on Thursday.

Image caption The Lone Moor Road alert was close to Celtic Park GAA stadium

Residents were moved from their homes during the security operation but have now returned.

Police said "a very small minority of people who clearly don't care about the community" had caused disruption.

'Dissidents suspected'

The other two alerts were in the Creggan and Shantallow areas of the city on Wednesday.

A suspect object was found at the home of an officer's parents in Drumleck Drive, Shantallow, shortly after 08:30 BST.

Image caption The Shantallow alert targeted an officer's parents in Drumleck Drive

Nearby homes were evacuated while the device was examined. The PSNI later described it as an elaborate hoax.

PSNI Ch Insp Alan Hutton said he suspected that dissident republicans were behind the Shantallow attack.

"This is an ordinary decent couple, living in an ordinary decent street in this city, opening up their door to find this device," he said.

"These are the parents of a serving officer, is that justification for anything? It's an absolute disgrace what these people have done."

'Attempt to intimidate'

The Creggan alert began at about 23:30 BST on Wednesday, when a hoax device was found at Inishowen Gardens.

The object was taken for further examination.

Streets were closed and a number of homes in the Creggan area were evacuated overnight as a result of the security operation.

The residents were not able to return to their homes until shortly after 05:00 BST on Thursday.

The Police Federation said the latest attacks were reprehensible and cowardly and were an attempt to intimidate, bully and terrorise.