Published Friday, 05 October 2012
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The device was found at the back of an elderly woman's home in the Jamaica Street area on Thursday and was made safe by an Army bomb squad, after more than 30 families were evacuated.
Following examinations of the mortar bomb, police believe that it would probably have been directed at a vehicle.
"This is not the first time such a device has been recovered by police in Northern Ireland, but it is a worrying indication of the capability and intent of those individuals or groups who seek to bring death and injury back to our streets, our homes and our communities," police said.
"Anyone in the vicinity of this device, had it exploded, would have been seriously injured or killed. Good police work has undoubtedly saved lives and prevented misery."
The 21-year-old man was detained on Friday and taken to Antrim for questioning.
The discovery of this device has potentially saved members of the security forces and the public from serious injury or death.
Earlier, the senior officer leading the investigation said the bomb was primed to kill.
"Once again the community of north Belfast has been disrupted and the lives of residents put at risk by an element intent on causing as much loss of life and disruption as they can," Area Commander Chief Inspector Andrew Freeburn said.
"I am sure the residents in the area and the wider public will be just as angry as I am about this discovery - they have every right to be outraged.
"However, what we need now is information about who left the device there in the first place."
Amid cross-party condemnation over the device and the fact it was left in such a densely populated area, DUP MP Nigel Dodds said "suspicion will fall upon dissident republicans".
Chief Inspector Andrew Freeburn added: "There is nothing to suggest this is anything other than dissidents."
Local Sinn Féin councillor Gerard McCabe said that those responsible had "endangered local residents and also forced families to leave their homes".
Officers continue to urge anyone with information to contact them.