Belfast District Commander, Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts said: “At around 2.30pm this afternoon, Monday 23 September, Police attended the report of a suspicious object found in the grounds of Holy Cross Boys Primary School in north Belfast. ATO examined the object and police have recovered what we assess to be an improvised weapon which has the potential to fire a high calibre round.
“This weapon is most likely to have been left in the area by dissident republican terrorists and was destined to be used in an attempt to kill or seriously injure police officers serving and protecting the local community in north Belfast. The fact that it was left in the grounds of a local primary school shows that those responsible have callous disregard for local children and members of the local community.
“The security operation in the area is continuing to allow for a careful examination of the scene in order to keep people safe. I would like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding while the operation continues. I understand that this has caused disruption to the children attending the school, to their parents, to the school staff and the wider community but I hope they will understand and accept that this is necessary that we are absolutely satisfied there is no ongoing risk to the children in the immediate area. It is unfortunately the case that there is likely to be further disruption to the school tomorrow morning until we can absolutely satisfy ourselves that there is no risk
“This is an act of utmost recklessness and a highly stupid act. Those responsible do not represent any kind of cause; they do not represent any section of the community. They have endangered the lives of children. The weapon was left in the immediate area where the youngest children who attend school would be playing during the course of the school day.
“Detectives from Terrorism Investigation Unit have now commenced an investigation into this incident and I am appealing for anyone with information who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area recently to contact detectives on 101 quoting reference 1169 23/09/19. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that will assist the investigation to contact us on the non-emergency number 101. Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.