City centre bomb 'fully exploded'

Published Saturday, 14 December 2013
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Police have now confirmed that a bomb containing flammable liquid fully exploded in Belfast city centre on Friday night.

Dissident republican grouping Oglaigh na hEirann has claimed responsibility for leaving the device in a black sports bag in the Exchange Street West area of Cathedral Quarter.

It caused a small explosion at 7pm which police said had the potential to kill.

Around 1,000 people were evacuated from restaurants and other premises, including a hotel, The MAC, the cathedral and apartments, on one of the busiest nights in the run-up to Christmas.

No-one was hurt when the device went off on the footpath while the area was being cleared, about an hour after a warning call was received by the Irish News - but it contained incorrect details.

Initially it was thought the bomb part-exploded, but police on Saturday revealed: "The device, which fully exploded, consisted of explosives and flammable liquid. It had been left on the street about 150 metres from the location identified in a warning call to a newspaper."

Police have released a photograph of the Slazinger holdall which contained the bomb.

Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum said: "This was an attack on the people of Belfast going about their normal lives on a busy night for socialising in the city.

"This attack ruined the night out for these people."

A statement from Stormont leaders Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness hit out at those responsible, describing their actions as "despicable".

DUP leader Mr Robinson said: "Once again we are witnessing the work of a mindless minority who are intent on taking the heart out of the city and wreaking havoc on the lives and businesses of the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland."

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said: "Their actions have done nothing to move our society forward but instead have caused distress to local residents, disruption to Christmas revellers and loss of revenue for surrounding businesses."

A statement from the owners of The Potted Hen restaurant thanked people for their support and said things have returned to normal on Saturday.

Dermot and Catherine Regan continued: "Thankfully no one was injured and there was no physical damage to the area.

"We are back to normal service from lunchtime today and we will be contacting everyone who had booked for last night and whose evening entertainment was ruined.

"We are really thankful for all the messages of support from the public and from our customers. The Cathedral Quarter is a very special place and we are glad that things are back to normal today."

Security has been stepped up in Belfast city centre within the past month following a series of dissident attacks, including an attempt to bomb Victoria Square Shopping Centre.

Police recently revealed that 323 checkpoints have been mounted and a total of 1,784 cars have been screened between 25 November and 10 December.

They have urged people living in north and west Belfast to remain vigilant this weekend.

© UTV News
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20 Comments
Jonner in Co Antrim wrote (128 days ago):
Last year if was the fleggers and now its the dissidents who want to spoil xmas. Wish they would all disappear.
Michael in Belfast wrote (129 days ago):
Toon Toon, what Ulster man is suggesting is exactly what they want. Bring the British soldiers back, destabilise the peace process and boost their support. Do not fall for it
gerard in belfast wrote (129 days ago):
i read these comments most nights half off them on here r blaming each other if its not the flags its the dissidents from what i see what we need more is good gov-ment we need all the mlas and there leaders to come out and tell it as it is there is no 1 side is right they r both wrong we all have to live here together weather we like it r not if we had leadership and people vote for what for what they believe is best for n ireland like the NHS JOBS INVESTMENT and good way off life for us all this would be a better place some off these people came up in the good friday ageement and know only off peace but r making things bad for us all is this what we all voted for i dont think so i was there on friday just after the bomb went off with my child and the fear i had i never had growing up in the troubles cause i knew no difference but my kids didnt live in that time and i hope they wont have to and no 1 here has to so next year when the time comes to vote do it for ur kids and forget whos green r orange but whos best for the job of giving us a better life here we all deserve it and then the police can do there job and put them all in jail do it now before its too late before some 1 is killed so get rid off the old and bing in the new MLAS who want peace here for all off us cause we all only have 1 life dont forget that keep r children safe happy xmas to all
gerard dornan in belfast wrote (130 days ago):
What a load of rubbish you talk about fleggers.They are still protesting on a nightly basis and trying to bully democracy,they are scum,and as for the dissidents who are lowlife wasters...go away ,you are a disgrace
joe in east belfast wrote (130 days ago):
one of these dissidents could be DFM some day...
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