Published Friday, 06 December 2013
Ten shots from the military grade weapon hit two police cars which were towing digital signs through a residential area at the Ardoyne interface at around 7.10pm.
No police officers or members of the public were harmed.
Dissident republicans have been blamed for the murder bid, which is the latest in a series of attacks on police.
Reacting on Friday, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: "To use military-grade weapons in a built-up urban area is madness.
"They could very easily have killed other members of the public and others using the facilities in that area."
ACC Kerr said that the shots were fired in the direction of Holy Cross Chapel.
He said the gun was recovered by police but that more weapons may be found in follow up searches.
"It is time for these dissident groups to realise how futile these acts are. They won't distract people from doing their jobs, they need to wake up to the fact that the rest of society has moved on," ACC Kerr added.
On Friday morning up to 50 homes were evacuated as police carried out a follow-up investigation.
It was very obviously an attempt to murder police officers, it showed a complete disregard by these dissident republicans for the general safety of the public.
PSNI ACC Will Kerr
Chief Superintendent George Clarke made an appeal to the community for information.
"We know this attack took place at around 7pm, in the area of Herbert Street and we know that at about 7.30pm, a car was found burning in the Butler Walk/Butler Place area," he said.
"The Ardoyne is a lively community and many people would have been moving about the streets going about their normal lives at that time and I'd like to ask anyone who saw anything in the area of Butler Walk, Butler Place, Brompton Park or Herbert Street, or the streets around that, to come forward and get in touch with detectives at Antrim Road."
He appealed specifically about a Silver Passat taxi, which police believe was hijacked in the Poleglass area at around 5pm, with a registration number ICZ 9780.
It is believed the taxi was the vehicle found burnt out in the Butler Walk/Butler Place area.
ACC Kerr said an operation was launched on Thursday to enhance security around the city centre to address an anticipated hike in dissident activity in the lead up to Christmas.
Recently letter bombs were posted to senior police officers and Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and a fortnight ago a car bomb attack at a Victoria Square car park was thwarted.
"Yet again this year, we'll be asking police officers to work long hours, away from their families to protect every community, not just in Belfast but throughout Northern Ireland," ACC Kerr explained.
"And what we need at the minute is community support and real community information to help put these people in jail where they belong away from the rest of society who have moved on."
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