Bomb found in parked vehicle ‘meant for police patrol’ and 'would have killed or maimed'

A bomb discovered in a car parked outside a home in Northern Ireland on Monday was planted by the New IRA with the aim of murdering police officers, the PSNI have said.

The device, found in a residential area in Londonderry and operated using a command wire, "would definitely have killed" people standing near it, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said.

It was the latest in a series of incidents in Northern Ireland this year and the second in as many days.

ACC Hamilton said the device was part of a "concerted effort" by the the dissident republican group to "murder" police officers.

He said that while the device was small, the explosion it would have created would have been "significant".

The car was parked outside a home in the Creggan Heights area. Credit: PSNI

"Certainly in our estimation, this explosion would definitely have killed people standing near it," ACC Hamilton told reporters on Tuesday.

"(It) probably would have wounded alot of other people and would have had a very significant blast in that area.

"My assessment is the likelihood that that device was there to be used at some point against a police patrol in Creggan. We believe that the New IRA are behind this. We believe that the New IRA want to drive policing out of Creggan."

Police were attacked with missiles by members of a crowd of 60-100 people as they carried out searches targeting dissidents.

Around 40 petrol bombs were thrown during Monday evening’s disorder.

Officers found the viable explosive device while looking for New IRA bomb-making equipment in the Creggan Heights area of the city.

The PSNI later said 15 families who were evacuated could return to their homes.

At least two young people engaged in the disorder in Derry’s Creggan estate sustained burn injuries during the violence, the PSNI said.

Mr Hamilton said: “By bringing a viable bomb into the community they have again proved that have no regard for the lives of anyone living in Creggan.

“Once again they exploited some of the young people in the community to attack police and have brought disruption and misery to families...

“Whilst it is the clear intention of the New IRA to murder community police officers trying to keep the community in Derry/Londonderry safe, it is also very clear that NIRA have a total disregard for the lives of everyone living in Creggan."

The police searches were launched after a dissident republican mortar bomb was recovered in Strabane, Co Tyrone, on Saturday.

Police at the scene on Monday evening. Credit: PA

The mortar, which was positioned close to a family home, was aimed at the town’s police station.

DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted on Tuesday: "I commend the police officers for making this area safe. Those who cling to the bomb & bullet try to use their community as a shield. For the sake of the next generation, these people need to be removed from our streets."

It was the seventh attempted murder bid against the security forces in Northern Ireland this year.

Journalist Lyra McKee, 29, was murdered by the New IRA in the same Creggan Heights area in April as she observed dissident rioting.

Mr Hamilton described the operation as “complex” as he condemned those indulging in disorder.

“The focus of this operation is ensuring the people of Creggan are safe.

"However, it is concerning to see significant numbers of young people on the streets, late into the night, throwing petrol bombs and other missiles at officers in the area,” he said late on Monday night.

“The reality is this type of disorder contributes to the complexity of the policing operation and presents a real risk of injury to those involved.”