Three police officers have escaped injury in a bomb attack in Northern Ireland.

The PSNI has confirmed that a report of a blast near officers on patrol in north Belfast last night was caused by an explosive device.

They said they are treating it as attempted murder.

The incident happened around 9.15pm as officers responding to a call out in the Hazelbank area made their way along the Duncrue towpath near the M5 motorway.

A blast went off close to the officers, prompting a security alert.

The area was sealed off for more than 24 hours as searches were carried out by police and Army bomb disposal experts.

A PSNI spokeswoman described the search operation as "lengthy and complex".

"Police can confirm that an explosive device detonated," she said.

"It is believed that the target was police officers and police are now treating it as attempted murder."

While not injured, the spokeswoman said the officers were left badly shaken.