Police probe ‘link’ between car pipe bomb attacks

Forensics officers at the scene in west Belfast after a pipe bomb exploded under a car on St James Road
Forensics officers at the scene in west Belfast after a pipe bomb exploded under a car on St James Road

Police are investigating a potential link between a pipe bomb that exploded under a car in Belfast and two others left in different parts of the city.

No one was injured when the device went off under a car on St James Road, off the Falls Road in west Belfast, just before midnight on Wednesday.

North Queen Street alert.  'Picture By: Arthur Allison.

North Queen Street alert. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison.

The incident was originally treated as a car fire and was dealt with by the fire service, with the remnants of the bomb only discovered on Thursday morning when the vehicle was moved.

An unexploded pipe bomb found in Friendly Street in the Markets area of the city centre was also placed under a car, while another similar device was left on the pavement on North Queen Street in the north of the city.

Both those bombs were made safe by Army Technical Officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin told members of the Policing Board that they were “open minded” in regard to motive.

DUP board member Jonathan Craig asked if the bomb bids were part of a “drugs turf war”.

Mr Martin said the investigation was not progressed enough to confirm or rule out a drugs link.

“There are similarities between some of these incidents in terms of what these devices look like so we are looking at the potential link,” he said.

“We are keeping an open mind on the motive. We certainly would not be saying at this stage anything like this is potential turf war over drugs.”

SDLP west Belfast councillor Colin Keenan said the St James Road explosion “was designed to murder”.

“Those behind this sinister attack offer nothing to the people of west Belfast other than a road back to mayhem and devastation,” he said.

Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said those responsible “need to let people in the area get on with their lives in peace”.