West Belfast device 'clearly designed to kill or seriously injure police officers'

Police briefing the media
Police briefing the media

A senior police officer has said the security alert in the Pantridge Road area of west Belfast has now ended.

Police said following a telephone warning that a suspect device had been left in the area of Bell Steel Road/Pantridge Road on Monday 30 October, police carried out a number of searches and the police helicopter was also deployed.

Police blocking off an area

Police blocking off an area

The area was secured by police overnight and a full clearance operation began yesterday morning.

They added that ATO have now finished examining a suspicious object discovered on Pantridge Road and have declared it to be a viable explosive device.

This has been described as being an explosively formed projectile - EFP - a weapon that is primarily designed to attack armoured vehicles and kill the occupants within. This has now been made safe and has been taken away for further forensic examination.

Belfast District Commander, Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts said: "While this device was clearly designed to kill or seriously injure police officers serving the local community in west Belfast it was left in a position where there is every possibility that it could have killed or maimed members of the public.

"Those responsible have shown callous disregard for the safety of members of the public and the police officers serving this community.

"We are extremely fortunate that no one was killed or seriously injured. I can assure the local community that police officers will continue to go about their duty and this will not deflect us from doing our job.

“I would like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding during the course of this protracted security operation. Our primary aim throughout the course of this operation has been to keep the local community safe. I understand the security operation caused significant disruption to people in the area, but it was required in order to keep people safe.

"The overwhelming number of people in the community do not want this type of activity and we as a police service will continue to work to bring those responsible before the courts. Responsibility for this incident lies squarely on the reckless individuals who placed this device in a built up residential area.

“We have had officers in the area since Monday afternoon. These officers have worked hard to keep people safe during the security operation. However, these same officers would have otherwise been better utilised in keeping people safe through working in partnership and addressing key community concerns around crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Detectives from Serious Crime Branch have now commenced an investigation into this incident. I am aware of a claim of responsibility having been made to a local news outlet and this will form part of that investigation. I am specifically appealing for anyone who noticed anyone at a public telephone at the junction of Skyline Drive and the Bellsize Road at around 11.10am on Monday 30th to contact us. We would also like to hear from anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the vicinity of the Pantridge Road / Brian’s Well Road over the weekend of Friday 27th to Monday 30th October to contact detectives on 101 quoting reference 865 30/10/17.”

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers and speak with them anonymously on 0800 555 111.