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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 09:11 GMT
Firebomb attacks on three stores
An incendiary device was left at the Homebase store in Belfast
An incendiary device was left at the Homebase store in Belfast
A firebomb has caused a major blaze at a retail park in Belfast.

The Homebase store on Boucher Road has been destroyed. More than 70 firefighters attended the overnight blaze which was reported at 0200 GMT.

Two other stores were also damaged by incendiary devices. A blaze at Smyth's toystore, also on the Boucher Road, was brought under control by firefighters.

Crews also dealt with a blaze at JJB Sports in Ann Street in Belfast city centre which badly damaged the shop.

A number of staff were in the Homebase store when the device exploded.

There were no reports of any injuries in any of the incidents.

Keyholders in both areas have been asked to check their premises.

About 50 jobs at Homebase have been potentially lost as a result of the fire.

Gas cylinders

Fire crews were called to all three incidents at about 0200 GMT.

Divisional Officer Chris Kerr from the Fire Service said the blaze at Boucher Road was very dangerous.

"The crews were deployed inside Reid's and we had aerial appliances pumping water above the premises to stop that fire from spreading," he said.

"At one stage, there was an explosion involving gas cylinders inside the Homebase area, which hampered firefighting efforts.

"But again, all credit to those firefighters - their courage and professionalism resulted in the fire being confined to the Homebase store.

"Although, it has been very, very badly damaged."

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has condemned the firebomb attacks.

In a statement, he said dissident republicans were trying to de-rail the St Andrews Agreement, but added they would not be allowed to succeed.


SEE ALSO
Store arson damage being assessed
08 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Council to discuss firebombings
10 Aug 06 |  Northern Ireland

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