A gun attack on two PSNI officers in west Belfast on Thursday night was a “mindless and reckless” attempt at murder, a police commander has said.
Up to eight shots were fired at the officers’ stationary vehicle as they carried out enquiries in the Rossnareen Avenue area of Andersonstown.
A number of rounds struck the passenger side of the car during the incident which took place at around 6.50pm.
Police say the officers were conducting enquiries in connection with a serious incident in the same street last week.
Belfast commander Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said those responsible were “deluded” if they thought the attack would have a negative impact on community policing.
“This was a mindless and reckless attempt to kill officers who were carrying out routine duties as part of an investigation into recent serious crime in the area.
“Thankfully it failed – the two officers were badly shaken but they were not physically injured.”
C/Supt Grimshaw appealed for anyone with information to ring 101, and added: “We will review our procedures in light of this gun attack but we will not be deterred from providing a comprehensive and community-based policing service.”
There are no reports of anyone having been injured as a result of the shooting on Thursday night.
NI Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “The people behind this despicable crime will rightly attract condemnation from right across the community.”
The Police Federation described the attack as “a cowardly attempt on the lives of officers who were working to protect people”.
Justice Minister David Ford said he “unreservedly condemn the appalling attack” and added: “Those responsible for this cowardly act have also shown absolutely no regard for local residents. I am very thankful that no one was injured.
“I would urge anyone with information to pass it to the PSNI on the 101 number or to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111. The sooner these criminals face justice the safer our community will be.”
The vice-chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Debbie Watters, said: “I’m thankful that the officers in the police car escaped without injury but this was certainly not the intent of those responsible.
“People in the community could have got caught up in this attack and it just shows the complete disregard that these people have for the area.”
Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey also condemned the shooting. He said: “Those responsible have nothing to offer the community, they do not speak for local people and need to end these reckless and futile actions immediately.”