N.Ireland bomb 'designed to kill police'

11th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Police in Northern Ireland said Sunday a bomb which severely damaged a bridge on an isolated country road was designed to kill or injure policemen.

The device exploded under the stone bridge around 5:30 pm (1630 GMT) on Saturday in Newtownhamilton, a rural stronghold of republican supporters near the border with the Irish Republic.

No one was hurt in the explosion, but it left a crater in the road and damaged the bridge.

District Commander Chief Superintendent Alisdair Robinson said the bomb was an attempt to lure officers to the area.

"This was a totally reckless act that could have easily led to loss of life if anyone had been driving past at the time.

"However, I believe at this stage the real target was my officers. This was an attempt to lure police into the area to injure or kill them," he said.

"At this stage we do not believe this incident poses any further risk to members of the public, but it does pose a significant risk to my officers. That is why we are treating this incident with extreme caution."

Security services in the British-controlled province are on high alert after a resurgence in violence in the last 18 months, including the murders of two British soldiers and a policeman in March 2009 by dissident republicans.

Northern Ireland endured three decades of civil strife between Protestants who wanted it to remain part of Britain and Catholics who wanted it to join the Republic of Ireland.

The violence largely came to an end with the 1998 Good Friday peace deal, but dissident repulicans opposed to the peace efforts have been blamed for sporadic car bomb attacks, often in rural areas.

© 2010 AFP

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