Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Homes cleared after Belfast police station attack

The small explosion happened at the rear of Old Park police station
The small explosion happened at the rear of Old Park police station

About 40 families were moved from their homes after a pipe bomb was thrown at a Belfast police station.

The device was thrown at the back of Old Park police station causing damage to fencing at the perimeter wall at about 0200 GMT on Wednesday.

There were no reports of any injuries, but people were moved out of the area as army bomb experts examined the scene.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes shortly after 1600 GMT.

Chief Superintendent Mark Purdon condemned the attack and said people do "not want to pulled back into a past they want to leave behind".

"Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a pipe-bomb type device, it also seriously disrupts and inconveniences the lives of local residents," he said.

"Old people and young children have had to leave their homes because of this attack which is absolutely unacceptable."

He appealed for help from the community to catch those behind the attack.

The SDLP assembly member for North Belfast, Alban Maginness, said he believed it was an attack by dissident republicans.

"It is clearly part and parcel of a dissident republican campaign to exacerbate tension in the community and to destabilise the political situation even further," he added.

The area's MP, Nigel Dodds of the DUP, said it was further evidence that there is a "ruthless and fanatical dissident republican element" in north Belfast.

Dissident republicans were also blamed for a similar attack in north Belfast in October when a small bomb was thrown into a Territorial Army base in Ashfield Crescent .

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