Antrim Road 'To Remain Closed' In Bomb Alert

As the police said it could be Thursday morning before Belfast's Antrim Road is reopened after a large bomb is made safe, the Acting Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board has condemned those who recklessly abandoned a bomb close to Antrim Road Police Station.

Brian Rea said: "The police have said that the intended target for this device was police officers. Those behind this bomb have shown complete disregard for the people who live and work in this area and it is very clear from the community reaction that there is absolutely no support for their activities."

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat Convery has also strongly condemned those who abandoned a bomb in the Antrim Road for the disruption and trauma that has been caused to local people.

The First Citizen was speaking soon after a local MP also hit out at those responsible for the ongoing alert. The DUP's Nigel Dodds said: "It is scandalous that some 100 families have been evacuated from their homes.

"I understand that three coded warnings have been received this week, first saying an explosive device had been left in the Antrim Road area, before subsequently specifying the Glandore area.

"Whether or not there is actually a device, this is a grossly irresponsible act designed to cause severe disruption to the residents of this mixed area.

"Those responsible prove only how totally inconsiderate they are of other peoples' well-being and I condemn their actions utterly. It is clear they have nothing to offer society only a return to the fears and disruption of the past," said the DUP politician.

Speaking earlier today, PSNI District Commander Mark Hamilton said the bomb was intended to murder officers attending a call on Saturday night and also that hundreds of people had walked past the device.

"This was an anti-personnel device which was designed to send shrapnel over a wide area and kill people out in the open'," he told BBC NI.

Superintendent Hamilton said: "There's no way I'm going to be opening the road again until I'm sure that there's no risk of death or injury to anybody living or working in that area of the Antrim Road.

"We've received a number of calls over a 24-hour period and the last one in particular led us to believe we were looking for an unexploded bomb in an unstable condition.

"It's madness, because it will have been lying there and hundreds of people will have walked past it," he said.

Also responding, North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly slammed those responsible for causing major disruption with an unexploded bomb in the area.

As the police this morning blamed dissident republicans for being behind the "large improvised explosive device", the republican politician said: "I understand that the PSNI have received three calls, accompanied with a codeword, claiming that there is an unexploded bomb on the Antrim Road.

"The caller did not give any specific details, therefore it is difficult to know the location or if indeed is a bomb," he said.

"The people involved have no support for any of these actions and I condemn it outright. They have put countless lives at risk by their reckless actions," he insisted.

Meanwhile, the SDLP North Belfast Councillor Cathal Mullaghan has condemned those responsible for planting the suspicious object.

Cllr Mullaghan said: "This is the second day in a row that there has been widespread traffic disruption in north Belfast as a result of people planting these devices.

"Those responsible have nothing positive to offer our community and cause nothing but disruption and misery to people. They must realise that they have no public support whatsoever and will not succeed in their campaign of terror.

"I strongly appeal to anyone with information on the planting of these suspicious devices to pass it on to the police immediately," he said.


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