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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 06:56 GMT 07:56 UK
Blast at police training college
Back gates of police college were damaged
Back gates of police college were damaged
There has been an explosion at the police training college in Belfast.

The police said first indications pointed to dissident republicans, but that it was still too early to be conclusive.

A police patrol was investigating reports of suspicious activity outside Garnerville College when they discovered a suspect parcel at about 2300 BST on Tuesday.

Army bomb experts were called in and about 100 people within the college were evacuated, along with the residents of several surrounding homes.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan
McQuillan condemned the attack

The device exploded just after midnight while it was being examined, a police spokesman said.

There are no reports of any injuries but the back gates of the college, where the device was found, were damaged.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan said: "This is not an attack on the police service but an attack on all the people in Northern Ireland who want to move forwards."

A search of the surrounding area was continuing on Wednesday morning.

Many people were put of their homes for several hours and they are enraged at the explosion

Jim Rodgers
Belfast lord mayor

A graduation ceremony for the first recruits to the new Police Service of Northern Ireland was held at the college earlier this month.

East Belfast MP Peter Robinson, of the Democratic Unionist Party, blamed republicans for the bombing.

"It has all the resonances of the Provisional IRA behaviour prior to their ceasefire," he said.

Belfast Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers, who represents the area as councillor, said he was horrified at the attack.

"Many people were put of their homes for several hours and they are enraged at the explosion," he said.

"At this stage, I am not prepared to say who I believe are responsible."

No injuries

SDLP chairman Alex Attwood, a member of the Policing Board, said the attack underlined the need for vigilance.

"This is a terrible attack - I condemn the threat to both the PSNI and the public," he said.

"I am grateful that there appear to be no injuries."

He added: "This attack has been carried out by those who have no understanding as to where our politics and our community have moved."

BBC NI's Julia Paul:
"The device was discovered at a back gate of the complex"
SDLP Chairman Alex Attwood:
"I condemn the threat to both the PSNI and the public"
See also:

05 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
PSNI recruitment 'historic' says SDLP
27 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Name badges part of new uniforms
27 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Row over NI police graduation
12 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Police recruitment 'will be 50:50'
04 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
'New era' as NI police change name
05 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Picture gallery: NI police graduate
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