Bomb found in Belfast city centre

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An explosive device capable of causing death has been discovered in the heart of Belfast, police said on Saturday.

The device was left on Friday night in a busy residential and commercial area. Army bomb disposal experts made it safe by carrying out a controlled explosion.

"This was a viable device which was capable of causing death or serious injury," said police inspector Eugene King.

"I would appeal to the community for information about the people who left this deadly device in the heart of our city."

The alert in Bradbury Place caused disruption in the area, with several homes and commercial premises evacuated overnight as police and army technical officers worked to make the device safe.

"A controlled explosion was carried out and the device has been removed for further examination," a police spokesman said.

The British government's assessment of the threat level from Irish-related terrorism is set at substantial, meaning that an attack is a strong possibility.

This year has witnessed an upsurge in dissident republican violence in Northern Ireland, with a policeman killed by a bomb in April.

Alasdair McDonnell, who represents South Belfast in the British parliament, condemned those responsible for planting the device.

"Businesses in Belfast, and in Bradbury Place where many bars and restaurants are located, are fighting hard against the current economic tide and do not need the added pressure of competing against viable devices," he said.

A 1998 peace accord largely brought to an end the three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.

The violence pitted Catholic nationalists seeking to join the Republic of Ireland against Protestant unionists who wanted the province to remain part of the United Kingdom.

© 2011 AFP

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