Device at Londonderry estate was ‘viable pipe bomb’

The cordon at Earhart Park on Saturday.
The cordon at Earhart Park on Saturday.

Police have confirmed that a device which sparked the evacuation of residents from a Londonderry housing estate on Saturday was a viable pipe bomb.

Residents from Earhart Park in the Ballyarnett area were evacuated for around seven hours before being allowed to return to their homes at around 8pm on Saturday night.

Some of the residents were forced to take shelter in the nearby Shantallow Community Centre, while others had stayed with relatives.

The major security alert was sparked following reports of a suspicious object in the estate on Saturday afternoon.

Army Technical Officers spent several hours at the scene, after a heavy police presence was deployed and cordoned off the area.

A PSNI spokesman has now confirmed: “ATO attended a report of a suspicious object in the area and have declared it to be a viable pipe bomb type device which has now been taken away for further examination.”

He added: “Earhart Park has been reopened to traffic and evacuated residents are now able to return.”

Local politicians yesterday condemned those behind the alert.

Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy said: “This is a disgraceful attack on the community.

“You have young families in this estate being evacuated from their homes. It is disgraceful and shouldn’t be happening.

“There are a lot of bungalows there with older people and people with disabilities who have been affected by this, and the people who have caused this need to answer why.”

SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins said: “The actions of a few can stress so many.

“In that area there is a lot of bungalows and therefore a lot of pensioners, people with disabilities, and a lot of young families. There has been so much disruption.

“It is really worrying and we don’t want this in our community,” she added.