Bomb thrown at police vehicle in Belfast

Saturday 15 March 2014 16.34
Police officers in Northern Ireland have been urged to tighten personal security measures after the attack
Police officers in Northern Ireland have been urged to tighten personal security measures after the attack

Police officers in Belfast have escaped serious injury after an explosive device was thrown at their vehicle.

The attack happened last night near the City Cemetery in the west of the city, a Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said.

An ambulance service spokesman said paramedics treated up to four members of the public for shock but there were no serious injuries.

The PSNI spokesman said: "Police in west Belfast have escaped serious injury tonight after an explosive device detonated close to their vehicle on the Falls Road.

"The incident occurred shortly before 10.30pm close to the entrance of the City Cemetery.

"It is believed some form of explosive device was thrown at their vehicle."

The City Cemetery, at the junction of Falls Road and Whiterock Road, is one of the oldest public cemeteries in Belfast.

Police officers in Northern Ireland have been urged to tighten personal security measures after a separate under-car bomb was found a relatively short distance away from City Cemetery earlier yesterday.

It fell from the vehicle and failed to explode, and even though the target has not been positively identified, the PSNI has not ruled out the possibility it was meant for one of their officers.

The device was discovered at Blacks Road, a busy route close to the M1 not far from Woodbourne police station.

Dissident republicans have been blamed for planting the bomb in what appears to have been a deliberate attempt to embarrass Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who are in Washington to meet senior members of the Obama administration as part of St Patrick's Day celebrations.

Similar under-car bombs have been used several times before - once to kill Constable Ronan Kerr near Omagh, Co Tyrone, in April 2011, and to seriously injure two officers in separate attacks near Castlederg, Co Tyrone, in May 2008 and Randalstown, Co Antrim, in January 2010.

There have also been attempts to kill off-duty officers in Belfast, some of them close to PSNI headquarters, and a soldier in Bangor, Co Down.