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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 21:16 GMT
Army base blast condemned
Army bomb experts searched the area following explosion
Army bomb experts searched the area after blast
The police believe "republican terrorists" were responsible for a bomb which exploded near an Army training centre in County Londonderry critically injuring a civilian Ministry of Defence worker.

The explosion happened at just before midday on Friday on the training ground near Magilligan Prison.

The bomb went off near the perimeter of the zone controlled by the Army, close to a caravan park near Benone beach.

The injured man, aged in his 40s, who is from the local area, is being treated for what have been described as "horrific" lower body and arm injuries at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.

PSNI Superintendent Mervyn Hood
Superintendent Hood: "This was a dispicable attempt to kill"

The police said he is employed by the MoD in a security and safety role and the device exploded as he was examining it.

Police Superintendent Mervyn Hood said: "It is believed that this man was checking a suspicious object which was sitting quite close to the perimeter of the training area when it exploded.

"He is seriously ill and is in theatre at the moment. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

"The only conclusion I can come to at this early stage is that this was certainly a republican terrorist-type attack. It was despicable and savage attack.

"The device itself was obviously designed to kill."

Superintendent Hood said it was believed the device had been left in the area within the last few days and appealed to the public to contact the police if anything suspicious had been seen.

John Reid:
John Reid: "Those who left bomb are evil, poisonous people"

He said whoever left the device had a "reckless" disregard for human life.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid condemned those who left the bomb and said they would not be allowed to drag Northern Ireland back to the past.

Extending his sympathy to the injured man and his family Dr Reid said: "Over the past 48 hours I have been with the Prince of Wales meeting so many people who are working to make Northern Ireland a better place.

"In the midst of all that good work we have those people from a poisonous past who are once again trying to drag the whole of Northern Ireland back.

"They will not be allowed to do that."

It's the latest in a long line of incidents in this area

Gregory Campbell
East Londonderry MP

East Londonderry DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: "It may not necessarily have been planted last night.

"This is very open territory and it could have been planted some time ago."

He said the attack was evidence that security bases should not be closed down in Northern Ireland.

"It's the latest in a long line of incidents in this area. There have been attacks on Ballykelly army base, Ebrington army base and Claudy police station," he added.

"We have to hope and pray that the person who has been injured fully recovers."

Ulster Unionist Limavady councillor Edwin Stevenson said: "I totally condemn this outrage. All right thinking people must condemn it.

"It's sad that at a time when most people are working hard for peace that there are still those in our midst who are determined to terrorise innocent people."

SDLP Foyle Assembly member John Tierney also condemned the attack.

BBC NI's Kieron Tourish reports:
"The police said the device was left between the Army controlled zone and the public beach"
The BBC's Dennis Murray
"It's what they call a victim initiated device""
PSNI Superintendent Mervyn Hood:
"Our conclusion at this early stage is that this was certainly a republican terrorist-type attack"
See also:

08 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
Man 'critical' after Army base blast
15 May 01 | Northern Ireland
Suspected attack on army base
15 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
'Barrack buster' mortar disarmed
06 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Explosion at army camp
03 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Dissident threat 'real and growing'
04 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Timeline: Dissident republican attacks
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