Police in Northern Ireland have blamed the New IRA for planting a bomb at a PSNI officer's car beside where her three-year-old daughter sits.

The device left at the part-time officer's home near Dungiven, Co Derry, was attached to a container of flammable liquid.

It is believed the officer was about to get into the vehicle with her daughter when she spotted the suspicious object.

Police say the device was designed to detonate when she started to drive.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan branded the murder bid by the dissident extremists as "despicable and cowardly".

The device, which did not detonate, was designed to create a fireball, Mr McEwan said.

He said the child's seat was in the car and the terror group would have been aware of it. The woman and her daughter would have been killed, he said.

"We will be unrelenting in our efforts in bringing these people to justice," said the senior officer.

"We believe this group would have known this is where the daughter would sit and they have shown no regard for this whatsoever.

"They know the effect if this device donated, it would have engulfed the car completely and those in it."

Assistant Chief Constable McEwan said the device was placed at the rear of the car, directly at the point where the woman's three-year-old daughter would sit.

He described this as distressing.

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

The device was discovered at the property in the Ballyquin Road area in Derry yesterday.

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

The attack has been strongly criticised by politicians at Stormont, with the First and Deputy First Ministers both speaking to the officer to express their support for her.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster said: "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.

"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 added: "The attempted murder of a police officer near Dungiven is reprehensible.

"Those involved in this attack will not succeed in their regressive and toxic agenda.

"All politicians must unite against these reckless actions. We must keep building the peace for our children."

Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long 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," she said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin 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."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney condemned what he described as a despicable attack and urged anyone with information to help the PSNI investigation.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said: "The attempted murder of this police officer is 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."

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents rank and file officers, has also strongly condemned the attack.

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

"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."

"The people behind this attack have no political or social support outside their own small circles. Their thinking is from a bygone era - an era everyone else has moved on from.

"It is very much the clear desire of decent people to get on with their lives without the spectre of terrorism hanging over their shoulders."

Additional reporting: Vincent Kearney