Published Friday, 21 September 2012
Forensic officers at the scene outside the main council offices (© PA)
A volunteer with Foyle Search and Rescue uncovered a pipe bomb in a rucksack attached to a bike along the river, close to the Derry City Council offices on Strand Road on Friday.
Police and the army bomb team were called in to investigate when they found a second bomb - with a timer attached to it - inside the office grounds.
Area Commander Jon Burrows said officers had been lured into the area.
"I've no doubt that that was intended to kill or seriously injure police officers or the army bomb disposal officer who attended to the first incident," he told UTV.
"These people want to kill police officers but they're more than happy to take the risk that your son or daughter, mother or father is killed in this process. That's a risk to them that's worth taking."
I’m thankful that we are not looking at dead police officers and I’m also thankful that we are not looking at a situation where innocent members of the public were killed.
Area Commander Jon Burrows
The woman volunteer for the sea and rescue team was with two others when she looked into the holdall and spotted a metal pipe inside.
"She knew not to reach into it and walked away," said Craig Smith, chairman of the charity.
"It was extremely frightening. All three of those volunteers could have lost their lives or been seriously injured."
Area Commander Burrows said he believes the attack was the work of dissident republicans, although no group has claimed responsibility for leaving the bombs.
More than 60 people have been arrested in the city in connection with dissident republican activity in the past 18 months, and 16 have so far been charged.
Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan said the co-ordinated attack was "extremely worrying".
"It's clear that the council was the target, but the council is here to serve the whole of the city," he said.
The Strand Road was closed between Queen's Quay roundabout and Rock Road but has since reopened to traffic and residents who were evacuated from their homes have been allowed to return.
"While disruption has been minimised, it's still extremely worrying for the vast majority of people in Derry that there are people in the city that are prepared to carry out these actions," said the SDLP MLA.
Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said the attack showed "utter disregard" for the local community.
"Whoever left these devices endangered the lives of the hundreds of people who use this walkway on daily and nightly basis as well local residents," she commented.
Alliance Justice spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA added: "The people responsible for these pipe bombs are offering nothing to our society. The public have accepted the peace process and have rejected violence."
Meanwhile Derry's mayor Kevin Campbell said: "People are horrified lives were put at risk. These volunteers are regarded as heroes in Derry. They do sterling work, all in their own time and without pay.
"Those responsible are a micro-group of disgruntled people who need to move into the 21st century. They need to explain the rationale behind this. They need to stop."
© UTV News