PSNI and army escape injury in NI bomb blast

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Police have confirmed that 'some sort of device' has detonated whilst officers were at the scene of an ongoing security operation in Newtownbutler.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: “At around 10.35am this morning Police officers at the scene have reported an explosion in the area of the Cavan Road at its junction with the Wattlebridge Road.

"There are no reports of any injuries and officers are investigating the cause of the explosion.

“Police had received a report that a suspect device had been left in the area of Wattle Bridge on Saturday evening.

"The area was secured by police and a full clearance operation began on Sunday morning.

“The initial report received by police indicated that a device had been left on the Wattlebridge Road however the explosion occurred on the main A3 Cavan Road."



He said he was of the "firm belief" that "this was a deliberate attempt to lure police and ATO colleagues into the area to murder them".

"Although this device was intended to kill police and army personnel the fact that it was placed on a main road the result could well have been devastating for anyone in the immediate vicinity.

“This attack was indiscriminate and reckless and, whilst there is no doubt in my mind that police responding to this call were the target, the reality is that anyone could have been caught up in the explosion. We are extremely fortunate that the actions of officers who were first on scene meant that there was not serious injury or death. I wish to acknowledge and commend the bravery and commitment of those officers and army personnel at the scene of this attack.

“I would like to again thank the community for their patience and cooperation throughout the security operation as we seek to ensure their safety. The area around the scene will remain closed for some time while our officers conduct their investigations and ensure the area is safe.

“I ask that anyone who may be able to help our investigation and identify the perpetrators of this sinister and potentially murderous attack to please come forward. You can call us on 101 or if you would prefer information can be given anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

On Twitter DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "Very concerned to hear about this latest security alert in Newtownbutler. Totally condemn those responsible who are intent on creating disruption and worry within the community.

Lisnaskea-based victim’s group South East Fermanagh Foundation spokesman Kenny Donaldson stated: “When the initial suspicious object was found we feared it was the ‘come on’ for a further attack upon the Police when they would be carrying out their follow up security operation”

“Mercifully no-one was murdered or injured but that wasn’t the intent of thee behind the attack”

Ulster Unionist Leader, Robin Swann MLA and Policing spokesperson, Alan Chambers MLA, have condemned the attempted murder of police officers and soldiers at Wattlebridge in Fermanagh.

Mr Swann said: "The bomb attack on police and soldiers at Wattlebridge in County Fermanagh is a terrible throwback to the terrorism of the past. It was a cowardly attack on brave men and women and also on wider society in Northern Ireland. There was never any excuse to justify such premeditated cold blooded attempts to murder in the past and there`s no excuse for it now.

“The police officers and soldiers who were targeted are there to serve and protect us all. The republican terrorists responsible for this cowardly act are attempting to sow seeds of terror across Northern Ireland. They must be stopped. When the police bring these people before the courts we need to see sentences handed down which reflect the severity of the crimes they commit.

“It is the responsibility of all politicians to be careful with the language so that the words they use cannot be interpreted as giving cover or excuse for those murderous criminals responsible for the planning and execution of this crime.”

Alan Chambers MLA, Ulster Unionist representative on the Policing Board added: "My thoughts are with the brave police officers and soldiers who escaped injury in this terrorist attack. Their courage is a stark contrast to the spineless and cowardly actions of the evil people responsible for this crime who want to pull our society apart though the use of terror. It didn`t work in the past and it won`t work now.

“The devious methods and tactics used, serve to demonstrate the absolute cowardice of the faceless thugs behind it who need removed from our streets as a matter of urgency. But this can only be done if those within the community who have information about the criminals responsible, are prepared to pass that on to the PSNI.”