Police station targeted in N. Ireland car bomb attack

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A car bomb caused damage but no casualties in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, after a taxi driver was forced at gunpoint to drive with the device to a police station, local officials and reports said.

The attack at around 3:20am (0230 GMT) in Londonderry, the province's second city on the northwestern border with the Irish Republic, was blamed on dissident Republicans opposed to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Police said the taxi was hijacked by two men, one of them armed with a gun, who loaded the bomb into the car and forced the driver to head to the police station.

"There seems to be a lot of wreckage. The car is completely destroyed and it seems businesses across the street have been destroyed as well," Derry Mayor Colm Eastwood told the BBC.

"We are very lucky today not to be talking about fatalities. It's an attack not just on the police but the entire community." There were no initial reports of injuries following the blast.

The blast comes weeks after the inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in Londonderry was published, and after it was named the United Kingdom's inaugural City of Culture.

Security services in Northern Ireland 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.

The splinter factions, who oppose the power-sharing devolved government in Belfast, are blamed for sporadic car bomb attacks.

© 2010 AFP

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