Pipe bomb found outside church in Northern Ireland

May 3rd, 2012 - 10:15 pm ICT by BNO News  

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND (BNO NEWS) — A pipe bomb was found on the grounds of a church in the Northern Ireland capital of Belfast on Wednesday, less than a week after two powerful car bombs were discovered elsewhere, police said.

Army Technical Officers (ATO) were called to the Ballysillan Presbyterian Church in northern Belfast on Wednesday after someone cutting grass discovered a suspicious device, prompting the evacuation of nearby residents. It turned out to be viable device.

“This was a viable pipe bomb which, if it had exploded, could have caused injury or death to anyone in the vicinity,” said North Belfast Area Commander Chief Inspector Andrew Freeburn. “The people who carried this out have shown a callous disregard for everyone in our community, not least those local residents who have been inconvenienced through being evacuated.”

Freeburn said the incident will be “fully investigated” to bring criminal charges against those responsible. “I would appeal to everyone to assist us in this investigation by bringing any relevant information to us,” he said.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the device, or if the church may have been the target.

Last week, authorities in the region defused two powerful car bombs which were blamed on dissident republican paramilitaries who remain violently opposed to a 1998 peace deal which ended most violence in the region. A car bomb found in Newry, not far from the border with the Republic of Ireland, contained some 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of homemade explosives.

Just over 24 hours later, on late Friday evening, police evacuated up to 70 homes after a suspicious object was found under a parked car in a garage in north Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. The device was made safe several hours later, and officials said it would have been a ‘real tragedy’ if the bomb had exploded.

Also on Friday, police recovered a number of guns and ammunition during a security operation targeting dissident republican terrorists in north Belfast. Several houses in the area were briefly evacuated during the large-scale operation, which lasted several hours. No arrests were made.

In August 1998, a total of 29 people were killed and more than 300 others were injured when a car bomb exploded in the town of Omagh in Northern Ireland. The attack, carried out by the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) which broke away from the mainstream Provisional IRA, was Northern Ireland’s worst terror attack in 30 years.

The peace deal in 1998 brought an end to more than three decades of violence between mainly nationalist Catholics opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland and pro-union Protestants who wanted it to continue. In April 2011, a booby-trap car bomb near Omagh killed Police Constable Ronan Kerr.

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