Device recovered following Ardoyne alert

Device recovered following Ardoyne alert

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A 'significant device' has been seized following a security alert in north Belfast.

Speaking after the conclusion of the overnight alert in the Ardoyne area of the city, Belfast District Commander Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said: “Shortly before midnight, police discovered what we now know to have been a significant explosive device in Brookfield Street.

The area was immediately sealed off and a number of nearby local residents, including very distressed young children, were evacuated for their safety.

The device, which was found at the gates of a local primary school, was examined by ATO and found to be viable and capable of substantial harm. A number of controlled explosions were carried out and the device was rendered safe before being removed for forensic examination.

There is no doubt that this device was intended to kill community police officers patrolling and tackling community issues in Ardoyne however its placement and the manner in which it was left, undoubtedly mean that had it detonated, it would almost certainly have caused death or serious injury within the local resident population as well.

My view is that this was absolutely an attempt by violent dissident republicans to kill police officers but it was also very much an anti-community act.

The people living in this area were placed at great risk. Had this device not been found when it had, there is no telling what we may have been dealing with. Young children would have been walking right past that device tomorrow morning, families reside in this area and children play outside.

The misguided individuals behind this device are seriously out of step with this community and clearly don’t care about the lives of those living in Ardoyne or the danger and disruption they have brought to their doorsteps. Placing this device, where they did, beside a school shows the contempt and disregard they hold this community in.

Many families with young children, older people, the sick and 'those with significant disabilities had to leave their homes in the middle of the night last night. Police and community representatives stepped in to make sure these people had somewhere to go and were kept safe while those responsible for all of this were absent, likely safe in their beds.

As a police service we will not be deterred by such acts nor by the small number of individuals behind them. We will keep doing our job, keeping people safe and tackling the things people in Ardoyne are demanding we tackle - burglary, anti-social behaviour and drug dealing.

An investigation, led by detectives from PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch has now commenced and I would ask anyone who was in the area last night or who may have information that could assist the police investigation, to please get in touch with us. It is important that we try to build a picture of what was happening in the area last night - who was there, what did they see - these are the pieces of the jigsaw that detectives can use to build their investigation.

Police can be contacted on 101, or if someone would prefer to give information without leaving their name they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

We would like to thank the community for their patience and their response to caring for the most vulnerable in this incident - but they are owed an apology and explanation by those who left this device outside the gates of a school."