22/07/2011

Fresh Alert Ends As Mortar Find Condemned

Local people have returned to their homes having been evacuated due to a fresh security alert in east Belfast earlier today.

The Army Bomb Squad have now taken away a viable incendiary device that was found close to the Oval football ground, this morning.

Around 2pm the PSNI said that it had been removed for further examination after nearby Harkness Parade and Banbury Street were closed and the bomb squad was called out.

The news comes just hours after the PSNI said they had found a significant viable mortar bomb following a separate security alert in north Belfast. The device was found during a search and a man has been arrested.

Dozens of people were moved from their homes overnight when the security operation was ongoing on Thursday.

The mortar bomb and a quantity of cigarettes were uncovered during the arrest and search operation in the Etna Drive-Jamaica Street area, with police now questioning a 41-year-old man about the find.

The DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds has said those responsible for the mortar were intent on destruction and its discovery had prevented death or serious injury.

"The discovery of this device has prevented criminal thugs from fulfilling clear plans to inflict death or injury on innocent people.

"We have seen in the all too recent past in north Belfast where young children were placed at risk when a device was attached to a child's bike.

"Once again this device has been found in a residential area placing the lives of everyone around it in danger. It is very clear that those responsible have no regard for anyone's life," he said, adding, "the police are to be congratulated for uncovering this device and for making an arrest in connection with the incident".

"I would hope that anyone in the area with information will assist the police in bringing whoever is responsible to justice."
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On the other side of the political divide, a Sinn Fein councillor for Ardoyne, Gerard McCabe, has also stated that those who left a viable mortar bomb in a garden in Etna Drive have recklessly endangered local residents.

"Whoever is responsible for leaving a viable mortar bomb in a garden in Etna Drive have recklessly endangered this community. Had this device exploded those living in the street could have been seriously injured or worse.

"Those who carry out these activities need to realise that this community does not want this disruption with over 70 families having to be moved from their homes nor does it want these groups operating in this area or carrying out such actions in their name," he said.

"There is clear and realistic way to achieve a united Ireland. This is not the way. These groups are without mandate or strategy and represent no one.

"They have yet to produce a viable explanation of why activities such as this continue and what they can achieve," he said today.

Meanwhile, the 'middle-ground' Alliance party's North Belfast representative Cllr Billy Webb has also expressed his concern after the mortar bomb was found by police during a search.

The politicial - who is also Newtownabbey Mayor - Cllr Billy Webb said: "I am extremely concerned following this mortar bomb find. The only purpose of this device is to attempt to murder a number of people.

'We must do all we can to help the police protect our community from the threat that the people behind this mortar bomb pose. I would like to pay tribute to the hard work of all police officers across Northern Ireland who are making our society safer.

"If anybody has any information about this find or any other device then they should contact the police," he concluded.

Serve & Protect

PSNI Superintendent Mark Purdon, Operations Manager for North and West Belfast said "The actions of Police have undoubtedly thwarted the attempts of criminals to inflict death, injury and misery on the community of north Belfast.

"Police are determined to work to protect communities from these threats and would appeal for the publics continued assistance and co-operation."

(BMcC/GK)

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