Bus hijacked and set on fire in Newtownards

Police are appealing for information after a bus was hijacked in Newtownards on Monday morning.

The incident happened around 6:30am in the Abbot Drive area.

Police say two masked and armed men boarded the bus and poured fuel over the vehicle before setting it alight.

The driver escaped unharmed, but has been left badly shaken by the incident.

"We are very disappointed by this intimidating attack on our member of staff and public transport services in the area. We utterly condemn this behaviour and will be working closely with the PSNI to investigate this incident," Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said.

“There were no passengers on board when this disgraceful attack occurred, however our driver is badly shaken and is currently being supported by colleagues.

“Our staff are on the frontline every day to keep essential services operating and to keep communities connected; supporting health, education and the economy. Safety is our top priority and we are currently working with the community and the PSNI to reinstate public transport services to the Bowtown Estate as soon as possible.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also condemned the attack.

"There was never any justification for people with guns on our streets and damaging property - there never will be," he tweeted.

"Thuggery & terrorism will do nothing to remove the NI Protocol. Political action has secured progress and must be allowed to continue. Violence has no place in this."

SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, who has responsibility for transport provision in Northern Ireland, branded the attack "disgraceful".

"Our bus drivers are frontline public workers, our buses provide a critical community service," she said.

"These cowards with covered faces have done nothing more than attack their own community."

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie tweeted: "Utterly disgraceful, depressing and stupid actions of thugs and criminals. In what way does this help address issues concerning the protocol, it simply hurts their own community. Wise up."

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or have any information in relation to it, is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 444 of 01/11/21.

Credit: Press Eye