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Saturday, February 21, 1998 Published at 12:39 GMT


Eleven injured by Northern Ireland bomb

Seven police officers were among 11 people injured in a 500lb car bomb attack outside a police station in Northern Ireland on Friday night.

The station was left a mangled wreck but none of those caught in the blast were seriously hurt. All but one have been discharged from hospital.

The explosion happened at about 11.40pm (GMT) outside the part-time Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Moira, County Down, 20 miles south-west of Belfast.

[ image: Clearing up after the blast]
Clearing up after the blast
Windows were shattered and houses and cars were damaged.

The bomb had been planted in a four-wheel drive vehicle which was parked outside the police station. Another car, believed to have been used by the bombers for their getaway, was later found on fire a few miles away.

Telephone warning

The blast came just hours after the republican party Sinn Fein was suspended from talks about the future of the province by the British Government.

[ image: Ronnie Flanagan: `Totally cowardly attack']
Ronnie Flanagan: `Totally cowardly attack'
A warning was given but no group has claimed responsibility.

RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan said the warning had been totally inadequate and condemned the bombing as a "totally cowardly attack".

Inspecting the devastation, Mr Flanagan added: "What we appear to have is a bomb of something of the order of 500lbs planted in a vehicle, probably a Jeep."

Ronnie Flanagan: `A totally inadequate warning' (0'42")
The victims had not sustained serious injuries but that was "only because of the good work of our officers in clearing the area," he said.

Mr Flanagan said the bomb appeared to be the work of republican extremists but that it was too early to say which group.

"Huge blast"

Residents within a 20-mile radius of the normally quiet town heard the blast.

A man who was walking down the street when the bomb went off said: "A massive flame went up after a huge blast, then glass and rubble came down from the sky - I thought I was going to die."

Georgina and Winston Crooks: `A bit of the car was lying at the front door' (0'27")
Georgina and Winston Crooks who run the town post office were just 300 yards from the blast scene.

"All the dust came down out of the attic and a bit of the car was lying at the front door," said Mr Crooks.

Roden Irwin said the bomb went off just as he turned the ignition key in his own car.

"I could see this great flash and then the glass started falling in around me. I managed to get out in a bit of a daze because I couldn't have been more than 20 yards from where the bomb went off.

"I don't know how I survived but an old outbuilding which seemed to take the full force of the explosion might have saved me. I just don't know. I thought it was all a hoax at the start."

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