A senior PSNI officer has said that a foiled attempt to murder a police man in east Belfast yesterday was carried out by dissident republicans.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said the attack could also have killed the policeman's family.

The officer was about to take his wife and two small children out for Sunday lunch when he checked underneath his car, parked in the driveway of his home, and discovered a viable explosive device.

Constable Hamilton said: "If that officer had not checked under his car we would be looking at a murder, or multiple murders.

"All right minded people need to condemn this, it is a repugnant and inhumane act."

He said the dissident republicans who planted the bomb were anti-peace.

Constable Hamilton said he hoped the device would be useful as evidence because it was discovered and did not engage.

There was a severe threat level across Northern Ireland, he said, and appealed to officers to be vigilant and check under their cars.

Meanwhile, a number of residents had to be evacuated after a viable device was found close to a police station in Tandragee, Co Armagh.

The area has since been declared safe and residents were allowed to return to their homes.