THE fuse had been lit on a dissident bomb which failed to explode at the family home of a Londonderry police officer, it has been revealed.
Dissident republican group the Real IRA is the chief suspect for planting the under-car pipe bomb which was discovered in the early hours of yesterday morning in the Shantallow area.
The bomb was under a vehicle that belonged to the Catholic policeman’s parents. This is the second time they have been targeted but the elderly couple have vowed to stay at the house, Superintendent Chris Yates said yesterday.
The officer himself no longer lives with his parents.
Supt Yates said: “This is the equivalent of a military hand grenade.”
The couple, from Drumleck Drive, are pensioners. Their home was attacked by the Real IRA in 2009 using a similar device but Mr Yates said they remained unbowed.
He said: “The device had been initiated; it had the fuse lit on it but it failed to fully explode.
“We are treating it as a terrorist investigation and as attempted murder because anyone next to this when it exploded would have been seriously injured and possibly killed.”
He pledged to leave no stone unturned to try to identify those who planned the attack and appealed for information.
A rally in Londonderry by the Real IRA at Easter heard a masked man threaten further attacks on police and soldiers.
But Supt Yates said there had been “a severe kickback” in the community against this incident and that people are “outraged”.
On speaking to the police officer whose parents were targeted, Mr Yates said: “He is showing a remarkable resolve. He has no intention of changing his chosen profession.”
Supt Yates said police are interested in the movements of two men seen in the area before the attack.
“We believe there were two males in the area probably about an hour beforehand.
“We are interested to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious in Drumleck Drive from about 9pm,” he said.
The bomb attack was condemned by local politicians. Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “It was carried out with malice and all the worst possible fallout with calculation and forethought from those involved.”
Laura Deery and her six-month-old son, Leo, were caught up in the alert. They had to flee their home at about midnight.
“It was just terrifying. I had to lift the baby out of his bed, and our family had to walk up the street in our bare feet,” she told the BBC.
“How would these people like it if members of their family were put to the street?
“My baby could have been blown to pieces, I could have been making funeral arrangements.”
Jonathan Bell, a minister in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, said: “All of us in society owe our policemen and women full support. Everyone must help the PSNI bring this terrorist minority to justice.”
l A viable bomb was discovered yesterday in north Belfast. The device had been in the Alexandra Park area for some time, police said.