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The BBC's Kevin Connolly
"The car bomb...will have served to darken the mood still further"
 real 56k

Sir Ronnie Flanagan
"Attack was on the community and not police"
 real 28k

Assistant Chief RUC Constable Tom Craig:
"The bombers have not ruined community relations in the town"
 real 28k

BBC NI chief security correspodent Brian Rowan:
"The bomb follows pattern of upsurge in dissidents attacks"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 July, 2000, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Clear up operation after 'dissident' blast
The bomb damaged RUC base in Stewartstown
The bomb damaged RUC base in Stewartstown
Clearing up operations are continuing after a 250lb car bomb, believed to be planted by republican dissidents, exploded in Northern Ireland.

The bomb went off outside a Royal Ulster Constabulary station in Stewartstown, County Tyrone, hours before Sunday's controversial Orange Order march at Drumcree, just 15 miles away.

No-one was injured in the blast which damaged the RUC station, businesses and scores of homes.

The police are appealing for information about the cars used in the bomb attack.

They are trying to trace the car which contained the bomb. It was a red Rover 620, which had been fitted with the false registration number P115 FOA, and had been stolen in Belfast in February.

Detectives also want to hear from anyone who saw the car believed to have been used by the bombers to escape.

It was an old-style Volkswagen Passat, which originally had the registration number JXI 759 and was later found crashed.

Meanwhile, residents and business owners are counting the cost of the explosion, which was linked to dissident republicans, the Real IRA, by RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan:
Sir Ronnie Flanagan: Linked dissident republican group to blast
Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme on Sunday, Sir Ronnie said those responsible for the bomb were attacking the community.

RUC Assistant Chief Constable Tom Craig said the bomb, left in the town when no police officers were on duty, could have caused death.

Speaking at the scene, Mr Craig praised residents and security forces, who rushed to the scene after locals expressed concern about an abandoned car, for working together to evacuate the area quickly.

Community development worker Jennifer Hamilton, who works for the Stewartstown and District Cultural Association, said everyone had been shocked by the blast.

"This was such a shock to the village," she said.

"Relationships have been so good. People get on well together. We just ask ourselves: "Why did this happen?"

Local people said the car was abandoned at 2330 BST on Saturday and that a masked man left in another vehicle.

Many had thought the alert might have been a hoax, coming at the most sensitive period in the marching season.

As the area was being evacuated a telephone warning was given. The device exploded while people were still being moved from their homes.

Residents clear up after blast
Residents clear up after blast
"There were no police in town at the time. Police resources were brought here. Between them the evacuation was partly carried out, but the consequences could have been disastrous," Mr Craig said.

He said the car containing the bomb was left beside homes, which were occupied at that late hour of the night.

"There were children playing in the forecourt of the filling station just across the road. Their home is destroyed," he added.

Appeal for calm

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's First Minister David Trimble condemned the attack and appealed for calm.

In a statement, he said: "I am relieved that no-one was more seriously hurt in this explosion given the inadequate warning that was received.

"Actions like this must be condemned without reservation for they show very graphically the path that some elements in society still want to take us down."

Deputy First Minister, the SDLP's Seamus Mallon, also condemned the bomb as a "premeditated act of terrorism clearly designed to heighten tension in relation to Drumcree still further".

He said: "I would appeal to everyone to remain calm and to behave with restraint."

The Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, described the Stewartstown car bombing as an attack on the peace process.

The Mid-Ulster MP said the attack on the morning of the Drumcree march would be seen as "deliberate provocation".

The Real IRA was behind the Omagh bomb attack in 1998 in which 29 people died.

It opposes the IRA ceasefire and the peace process in Northern Ireland.

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See also:

08 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree: The route of the march
06 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Orange protests 'wrecking' tourism
07 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Picture gallery: Drumcree dispute
08 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree protest 'has lost integrity'
05 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Dissident factions threatening peace
30 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Dissidents 'pose real threat'
05 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Dissidents linked to arms find
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