A primary school was combed for a possible bomb during a security alert yesterday afternoon.
The incident in Co Tyrone led to the school being evacuated and drew stern criticism from across the political divide.
Nothing was found and it was ultimately declared a hoax, but police said that the incident had caused “huge disruption” to pupils, teachers and parents at Omagh County Primary School.
At around 2.40pm, police said “information was received suggesting a device had been left at the school”.
Police tape could be seen cordoning the area off, and pupils were moved to a nearby high school for their safety.
There was also said to have been serious disruption to traffic in the area while the security operation was under way.
By 5pm, the alert was declared over.
A PSNI spokesperson issued a statement which said: “Police take all precautions to ensure the safety of the public and I would like to thank anyone affected by the alert today for their patience whilst officers searched the scene.”
In the aftermath of the scare, UUP MLA for West Tyrone Ross Hussey said he “simply cannot comprehend the mentality of anyone who would cause a security alert at a primary school”.
He asked: “Who in their right mind would want to disrupt the lives of young children and cause them to be evacuated from their school in the depths of winter?”
West Tyrone DUP MLA Tom Buchanan said the event was “hugely distressing “, and those responsible were “beneath contempt”.
He added: “We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to staff working in such circumstances where they will not have known exactly what they were dealing with.”
Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff said it had disrupted shops and traders, and had brought transport in the area to a “standstill”.
“It serves no purpose whatsoever and must be condemned,” said Mr McElduff.
The SDLP’s Joe Byrne, meanwhile, said it was a “very sad state of affairs to put pupils, staff and parents through such an ordeal”.
He added: “During a time when primary school children are learning about the Christmas spirit and maybe even preparing for school plays, it’s a sad indictment on those who think this is appropriate to phone in a hoax warning.”