BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 07:47 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 08:47 UK

Device outside Templemore count centre a 'viable bomb'

Car in Londonderry after explosion
A controlled explosion was carried out on the car

A pipe bomb left outside an election count centre in Londonderry was a viable device, the police have said.

Counting in Foyle and East Londonderry was suspended for an hour and a half after a car was abandoned at Templemore Sports Complex in Derry.

Earlier a taxi was hijacked and a gun put to the driver's head. He was told to bring the pipe bomb to the count.

The Army carried out a controlled explosion at about 0000 BST on Friday. Dissident republicans have been blamed.

Some local residents, including elderly people in sheltered accommodation, had to be evacuated from their homes.

The deputy returning officer Patricia Murphy said they were minutes away from a declaration when the centre was evacuated.

"We were so close, and everyone was so disappointed.

"Nowadays we're not used to hearing bombs go off, it's something we've moved away from, so to hear the bomb go off was startling," she said.

Another election worker, who did not give her name, said the explosion reminded her of the Troubles.

"It takes me back nearly 35 years to the time when we really had bombs in Derry.

"It was very frightening for a while to think it might actually be a bomb. It's not somewhere we want to go again."

Mark Durkan, SDLP MP Foyle, said those responsible did not stand for election because "they knew they would get very little support".

"Effectively what we're seeing is a pathetic effort by people who couldn't offer themselves on a democratic platform in an election, and instead what they do is attack the democratic process by disrupting the count.

"We know they have the capacity to do devices, but we also know they don't have the capacity to do democracy.

"They're only showing themselves up by this."

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