Police have confirmed that a viable bomb has been found under an officer’s car in east Belfast.
The security alert on the Upper Newtownards Road in the east of the city saw a number of homes evacuated from early afternoon.
The PSNI released a statement this evening confirming an officer had been targeted, after widespread comment from politicians claiming it had been an attack on police.
A police spokesman said a viable unexploded device was detected under a serving police officer’s car in the Upper Newtownards Road area of East Belfast at around 2pm today.
Army bomb experts were called to the scene and nearby residents were evacuated, he added.
PSNI ACC George Hamilton said, “It is very fortunate that this device was detected before it exploded and that no one was killed or seriously injured. Initial investigations would indicate that this was a viable device placed below an officer’s car sometime in the last 48 hours. It was clearly intended to kill the police officer. His family and neighbours in the vicinity were also put at risk of serious harm.
“Obviously there are people out there who are still intent on causing murder and mayhem. Attacks on police officers are attacks on the entire community and cannot be allowed to continue.
“We know there are people within our communities who know who did this, we know there are people out there who know exactly what is being planned. My plea to them is not to allow this small minority to drag us back to the past.
“Our belief is that this attempted murder was carried by those opposed to peace from within Dissident Republicanism. They don’t care who they attack, they don’t care who they kill. They are simply anti-peace and determined to carry on bringing pain and devastation to families and communities by maiming and killing.
“The community can be assured that the Police Service of Northern Ireland will do everything possible within the law to bring those responsible to justice. However it is very important that we get information about this incident quickly.
“We need support from members of the public in bringing those responsible to justice. Anyone who was in the area of the Upper Newtownards Road and witnessed any unusual activity in or around this area between the junction of Cabinhill Park and the Knock Road between Friday afternoon and lunch time today is asked to contact detectives on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”
Stormont Presbyterian Church was made available for evacuated residents. The Upper Newtownards Road remains closed to traffic between the Knock Road junction and Cabin Hill Park.
SDLP Policing Board member Conall McDevitt condemned the apparent bid to target the officer.
“This is a cynical and deplorable act,” he said.
“Those seeking to target police officers are undermining not only the stated will of the people of Ireland who have long since rejected violence, but also the desire for a new beginning for policing in the North, which is shared by the majority of citizens.”
The Stormont Presbyterian Church has opened to accommodate residents who have had to leave their homes during the alert.
A security alert has caused the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast to be closed and a number of homes to be evacuated.
Police and army bomb experts are at the scene.
Part of the road is closed between Knock traffic lights and Cabin Hill Park and traffic diversions are in place.
A number of houses have been evacuated and the Stormont Presbyterian Church has been opened for any residents in need.
East Belfast DUP MLA Robin Newton has condemned those whom he said placed a viable bomb under the police officers car on the Upper Newtownards Road.
“The placing of such a device has only one intention and that is to murder,” he said. “Those who placed this potential bomb have nothing to offer the community except heartache and sorrow.
“The thugs who carry out this type of an action are rejected by the vast majority of the community as being wicked and evil and wicked who care nothing for innocent life.
“I pay tribute to the PSNI officers and the bomb squad officers who risked their lives to make the area safe not only for the intended victim but all who live in close proximity.”