A pipe bomb-type device found close to the railings of a west Belfast nursery school at noon yesterday had ‘partially exploded’, police last night revealed.
It is understood the device may have detonated elsewhere before being left in the Summerhill Drive area in Twinbrook, close to St Mark’s primary school.
Last night it was unclear who planted the device.
The pipe bomb attack comes days after a phone call was made to a newspaper from a caller claiming to be from the Red Hand Defenders. The caller threatened to target two primaries and one secondary school in west Belfast but it is not clear whether loyalists or dissident republicans were behind yesterday’s alert.
PSNI chief inspector Darrin Jones, Lisburn Area Commander, said: “Whether or not this device was left intentionally in this area or abandoned here, those who left it showed absolutely no regard for this community. Leaving a viable explosive device in a built-up area is reckless enough but to potentially endanger the lives of small children is beyond callous.”
The PSNI has appealed for anyone who may have heard a loud bang or explosion during the early hours of yesterday morning to come forward.
Sinn Fein MLA for West Belfast Jennifer McCann said: “Those responsible have put the lives of residents and both the children and teachers at the school in danger. This device has been left extremely close to the railings of St Mark’s nursery.
“Whoever is behind this needs to come forward and explain to the community – who they claim to represent – what the endangerment of children, teachers and residents has achieved.”
The Twinbrook device was found a few hours after an ‘elaborate hoax’ was found in Ballyclare close to the town’s police station. Roads were closed and homes were evacuated during the alert.
On Tuesday there were hoax security alerts in north Belfast and Holywood while a viable pipe bomb was found on the Malone Road in south Belfast close to the Territorial Army camp.
Speaking prior to the Andersonstown attack, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said the ongoing spate of security alerts “have been orchestrated to cause maximum disruption and misery for the community” and added:
“All the signs are that they have been carried out by dissident republicans who see this as an easy way to inflict maximum distress and injury on society without having to go the full length of having sophisticated bombs and so on.
“You see sporadic outbursts of violence from these people and I think their thinking is so warped they do not need any pretext.” The DUP MP added: “Misery is being inflicted on ordinary people on both sides of the community. It is a nasty, vicious, dirty campaign designed to inflict maximum damage on everybody in the community.”