'Substantial' bomb at Northern Ireland courthouse

28th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Police said Monday they had found a "substantial" bomb near a Northern Ireland courthouse which they believe was planted by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.

The "viable" device comprised about 50 kilogrammes (100 pounds) of homemade explosives packed into a beer keg and left in a stolen vehicle in a car park near the courthouse in Northern Ireland's second-biggest city.

Dozens of residents were moved from housing near the courthouse while a series of controlled explosions were carried out after the device was discovered on Sunday following a telephone warning.

District Commander Stephen Martin said: "If a bomb such as this had gone off it would have killed or seriously injured people."

He blamed dissident republicans for planting the device, telling reporters: "The difficulty we face is that while we have a number of people, albeit they are small in number, who are willing to set their faces against the wishes of the majority, unfortunately we will see some acts like this occur again."

Northern Ireland was blighted by three decades of sectarian violence from the 1970s until the late 1990s, pitting pro-British Protestant communities against Catholic communities who wanted to join the Republic of Ireland.

It largely ended with the 1998 Good Friday peace accords, but sporadic violence continues.

Dissident republican groups have been particularly active in Londonderry.

© 2011 AFP

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