Mechanical fault sparked car bomb fears

Army bomb experts with the car just off the main A2 road between Belfast and Bangor
Army bomb experts with the car just off the main A2 road between Belfast and Bangor

A car fire in Co Down which sparked a security alert and led to claims of a terrorist attack was the result of a mechanical fault, police have confirmed.

At 8.30am Army bomb disposal experts were called to examine the vehicle on the A2 between Belfast and Bangor amid claims from some public representatives it may have been a bomb.

Speculation on whether or not an under-car bomb had been used to target a member of the security forces was rife until the PSNI issued a statement saying the fire had been caused by a mechanical fault.

In a press release issued at around 1.30pm, a police spokesperson said: “Police can confirm that a mechanical fault is believed to be the cause of a car fire on A2 between Belfast and Bangor.”

They had earlier confirmed the female driver of the car escaped injury in the incident.

Army technical officers spent several hours at the scene with a low-key police presence at the security cordon. They left the area shortly after 1pm and reopened the road a short time later.

Police sources had earlier confirmed the woman was not a serving police officer.

A number of elected representatives, including DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr, publicly condemned what they believed was a terror-related incident.

At 10.12am he tweeted: “I understand that a Terrorist attack on police officer in Ballyrobert Co Antrim has taken place. Suspected Under car booby trap device. My concern is for the officer and family of officer. Terrorism will never prevail.”

An hour later he tweeted: “Reports suggest this was a major malfunction of the vehicle and not terrorist related. If so that’s a huge relief and I hope those involved are uninjured.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster also condemned the reported attack during a press conference in Brussels, saying: “We do condemn utterly those who would seek to bring violence back to Northern Ireland.”

Meanwhile, UUP MLA in North Down and the party’s policing spokesman, Alan Chambers, released a statement at 11.04am claiming a “car belonging to a police officer caught fire ... when a booby-trap bomb partially exploded”.