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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 07:47 GMT 08:47 UK
Jeep explodes outside prison
The vehicle was taken away for forensic examination
The vehicle was taken away for forensic examination
Prison staff have been moved to safety following an explosion at the main gate of Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland.

A device was left in the white vehicle which pulled up outside the perimeter gate to the prison in County Antrim about 2230 BST on Sunday.

Two prison officers were in buildings nearby, but no-one was hurt.

The police are looking for at least two men seen abandoning a jeep containing the device.

Fortunately no staff were injured and that is the most important thing

Finlay Spratt
Prison Officers' Assocation

Witnesses saw the jeep and another vehicle approach the prison entrance and watched as the driver of the jeep got out and into the second vehicle, before it sped away.

Shortly afterwards, the device inside the jeep exploded.

It is understood prison officers inside the complex were given approximately two minutes' advance warning.

Finlay Spratt of the Prison Officers' Association said the attack was designed to intimidate staff and police clearly had intelligence that it was going to happen.

"They got about a two minute warning and that allowed them time to evacuate the members of staff who were at that location," he said.

Finlay Spratt Prison Officers Association
Finlay Spratt: "Fortunately no staff were injured"

"Fortunately no staff were injured and that is the most important thing."

An army bomb disposal team spent several hours examining the scene before taking the jeep away for further forensic examination.

The attack comes less than two weeks after a device detonated outside the police training centre at Garnerville in east Belfast.

Meanwhile, there is a security alert on the railway line between Lurgan and Moira.

The line has been closed after a suspicious object was left near Lake St in Lurgan.

BBC NI's Shane Glynn reports from Maghaberry:
"The vehicle has been taken away for extensive forensic examination"
See also:

17 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Blast at police training college
08 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
Army base blast condemned
10 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Prison plans 'still doing time'
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