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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 19:15 GMT
Dissidents 'behind Belfast bus bomb'
The device contained an estimated 5kg of explosives
The device contained an estimated 5kg of explosives
Dissident republican paramilitaries are believed to have detonated a bomb on a hijacked bus outside a west Belfast police station.

The device, containing an estimated 5kg of explosives, went off on the bus on Stewartstown Road near the gates of the Woodbourne base, as army experts tried to defuse it.

There were no injuries, and damage was restricted to the gates and the bus.

The police said that while they believed the device had exploded fully, the cylindrical object fired downwards and not outwards, which could have caused more damage.


This was a reckless terrorist act in which people could have died or been injured

Superintendent Maggie Hunter
Two armed and masked men ordered the sole passenger off the bus, placed the device carried in a holdall three seats behind the driver and ordered him to drive to the police station.

On arrival the men fled and the driver raised the alarm.

An army bomb disposal team carried out a number of controlled explosions on the device to try to defuse it, but during the operation it exploded.

Houses on the Stewartstown Road had already been evacuated, after the bus was hijacked earlier in the day. Many elderly residents were out of their homes all night.

'Capacity to kill'

The local police divisional commander, Superintendent Maggie Hunter said it was a "reckless terrorist act in which people could have died or been injured".

"The bus driver was forced to drive a bus containing a bomb along a busy route past housing and other traffic to the police station.

"This not only endangered the bus driver, but other road users and people living opposite the police station.

"It had the capacity to kill or seriously injure someone. I believe it fully exploded, but exploded downwards."

Series of attacks

She added: "It is very early days, but we believe at this stage that dissident republicans may have been involved."

Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy condemned the "reckless and totally irresponsible actions of those behind the bomb".

"The police will vigorously pursue the people who carried out these murderous acts," she said.

The bombing has followed a pattern of recent attacks by dissident republicans opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process on police and army bases.

Dissident republicans have been particularly angered by the IRA's move last week towards beginning a process of disarming.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Superintendent Maggie Hunter
tells BBC NI's Shane Glynn: "This was a most reckless act"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis

Analysis

Background

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

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See also:

30 Oct 01 | N Ireland
24 Oct 01 | N Ireland
04 Mar 01 | N Ireland
06 Apr 00 | N Ireland
Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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