Device left on doorstep of Dungiven family home ‘attempted murder’

Homeowner Gavin Watson said he has no idea why his home was targeted in the security alert
Homeowner Gavin Watson said he has no idea why his home was targeted in the security alert

The placing of an explosive device on the doorstep of a house in Co Londonderry was “attempted murder,” a senior police office has said.

Superintendent John Magill also said the bomb, which was made safe at the premises at Ard-Na-Smoll in Dungiven, was probably linked to recent devices planted in the Drumsurn and Banagher areas.

Gavin Watson, who has lived at the house for the past 10 years, said he was not at home when the device was left, but that his partner and two-year-old daughter were.

He said those responsible set bins on fire before placing the bomb on his doorstep.

“This was a terrifying incident,” Mr Watson told UTV.

“I don’t know why my home has been targeted or who would do this. My partner and our wee girl are badly shaken, as am I,” he added.

Firefighters who attended the report of the wheelie bin on fire raised the alarm on discovering the suspicious object.

Supt Magill said: “Those firefighters are local people giving up their time to help local communities in emergencies, and were put at risk by this device.

“There are clear similarities between the three attacks and our detectives are joining up all three investigations and, certainly, a strong line of inquiry is that these devices were planted by violent dissident republicans with the intention to deliberately kill, or seriously injure anyone in the vicinity of the device.”

The Causeway Coast & Glens district commander said those responsible should “get off the backs of the community,” and added: “This is the third viable device uncovered in the Dungiven area in the past four weeks. These incidents are not wanted in the Dungiven area, the condemnation of local political leaders and members of the community demonstrates that.

“The particular appeal from detectives is for information about any unusual activity in the area. In particular we want to hear more about two men seen running away at about 9pm.”

Dissident republican group Óglaigh na hÉireann previously claimed responsibility for leaving the bomb in Drumsurn on November 11.

Claire Sugden MLA said the incident was a cause for concern.

“This is another potentially dangerous situation and I condemn it. There is zero tolerance for activity like this.

“This is the latest in a number of recent security alerts in the Dungiven and surrounding areas.”

Ms Sugden added: “People in this rural community are fed up with this type of disruption and intimidation; they just want to go about their daily business.”

Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey said the attackers have only succeeded in disrupting the local community.

“These actions are achieving nothing. These actions have been rejected by the local community and they must stop.

“Again local residents were put in danger and the people who left this and the other devices need to stop these actions before someone is killed or seriously injured.”

Mr McGlinchey also appealed for anyone with any information to bring it to the PSNI.