Viable explosive device found close to police officer's home in Dungiven

Police at scene of the security alert in Dungiven. Credit: PA

A viable explosive device has been found close to the home of a PSNI officer in Dungiven, Co Londonderry.

The woman targeted is a member of staff who also serves as a part-time police officer.

Speaking about the incident, ACC Mark McEwan, Head of the PSNI's Crime Organisations Department, said: "I can confirmed that the device is viable and investigations are ongoing to establish the full circumstances.

"We are treating this as an attack on a member of staff who also serves her community as a part-time police officer."

Roads in the area remain closed. Credit: UTV

Chief Constable Simon Byrne tweeted: "I strongly condemn this outrageous attack on our officer and her family.

"Every day @PoliceServiceNI officers and staff bravely step up to serve the community and this attempt to harm is a stark reminder of the challenges still facing us all."

Mark Lindsay, chair of the Police Federation, said it is "appalling the officer was singled out in this manner".

He added: "Her dedication to serving the community is in stark contrast to those involved in this attack, whose only purpose is to wreck lives.

"There are people in this community who know who planned this attack and placed this potentially lethal device under an officer's car.

"They must realise there is nothing to be gained by such attacks and I would call on them to give the police the information they need to capture the culprits."

First Minister Arlene Foster has blamed dissident republicans for the bomb attack.

"I stand, as does my entire party, with the brave woman targeted by republicans and utterly condemn those who have sought to harm her and her family," Mrs Foster said.

"I do give thanks that she has survived this dreadful murder attempt and when I spoke to this lady earlier, I gave her my prayerful support and indeed solidarity at this difficult time.

"To the republicans who sought to murder this young mother - your campaign is futile, you will never succeed and, whilst there may always be different political views in Northern Ireland, we will keep moving forward and we will not be dragged back by bombers or those who would seek to use the gun to get their own political way."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill also tweeted saying: "The attempted murder of a police officer near Dungiven is reprehensible."

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis called the incident "absolutely abhorrent".

"I completely condemn the actions of those involved. Those who try to attack public servants have nothing to offer the communities they claim to represent. I want to convey my support for the officer concerned," he tweeted.

Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary of State Louise Haigh said the attempted murder of a serving police officer was "utterly sickening".

"All my thoughts are with the officer affected and her family," she said.

"Those who want to drag Northern Ireland back to the past have no support and this reprehensible act has no place in today's Northern Ireland.

"Communities want to live in peace, free from fear and violence. That is the only way forward."

Irish premier Micheal Martin has condemned those responsible for planting the explosive device at the officer's car.

The Taoiseach tweeted: "Deeply reprehensible and cowardly attack on the home of a police officer in Northern Ireland last night.

"Politicians across this island must work together to avoid a return to the dark days of fear and terror."

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney tweeted: "I completely condemn this despicable attack on a police officer near Dungiven.

"Our thoughts. solidarity and support go to her, her family and her PSNI colleagues. Anyone with information should assist with PSNI investigation."

Those behind this reckless attack have absolutely nothing to offer society but more suffering and there have shown a callous disregard for the entire community. They need to bring their futile actions to an end.

Gerry Kelly MLA

Sinn Féin MLA and Policing Board member Gerry Kelly condemned the incident, calling on with anyone with any information to contact the police. "At a time of increased community tensions, this is the last thing that anyone wants to see," he added.

UUP leader Steve Aiken said there can be hiding place for those who seek to murder police officers:

“The police exist to serve and protect the entire community. As a society we must never grow immune to the horror of having our police officers targeted for murder," he said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood slammed the attack as an "appalling attempt to murder a young woman who stood up and chose to serve her community".

"Violence in pursuit of political goals has never been endorsed by the people of this island," he said.

"Those who are waging a campaign of violence against members of our community need to understand, and we need to make them understand, that they are not in a fight with the PSNI or with Britain, they have chosen a fight with the people of Ireland who overwhelmingly endorsed peace. It is a fight that they will never win."

Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long condemned those responsible for planting the explosive device at the officer's car.

"First and foremost, my thoughts are with the officer, her family and her colleagues," she said.

"This was a despicable and cowardly act against the mother of a three-year-old child which could have had devastating consequences for both her and her daughter.

"It was an attack on an officer who serves the entire community, an attack on someone who works to make this a safer place for all of us.

"To deliberately target someone in this way is not only callous, it is completely reckless. When a device explodes, it does not discriminate. It does not pick and choose who it injures or who it kills.

"The people who sneaked around in the dark to plant this device have shown an utter disregard for human life, not only for this officer but for others living in the area or who may have been passing by.

"The people behind this have nothing to offer anyone living here. Their actions go against the democratic principles that the vast majority of people in this society support.

"Those who set out to kill and maim must be brought to justice and I would urge anyone with any information, no matter how insignificant it might seem, to contact PSNI or Crimestoppers."