Device driven to police station was elaborate hoax ‘made to look like car bomb’
A vehicle driven to a police station in Londonderry contained an elaborate hoax device made to look like a car bomb, a senior officer has said.
Police said an obvious line of inquiry was that dissident republicans were behind an incident in the city where a delivery driver was hijacked by masked men at gunpoint and made to drive to Waterside police station on Sunday night.
Chief Superintendent Nigel Goddard said a security operation following the hijacking had caused “massive chaos” in Derry, which included some children unable to get to school and disruption to access to Altnagelvin Hospital.
The incident comes just days after police said they believed the New IRA could be responsible for an incident in which two officers escaped injury after their car was targeted in a bomb attack.
Mr Goddard said: “At approximately 10.30pm last night three masked men hijacked a delivery driver in the Curryneirin area of the Waterside.
“They placed an object in the back of his car and told him to drive to Waterside station, and to abandon the car there. Which he did.
“This led to a protracted, overnight operation in order to make that vehicle safe and to keep the community safe.
“It is an elaborate hoax device, meant to look like a car bomb. There seems to be a petrol canister with a pipe attached to it.
“Obviously that has caused considerable disruption across the area and needs to be condemned as reckless and futile.”
He added: “People had to be moved out of their homes.
“Children couldn’t go to school this morning while access to Altnagelvin Hospital for staff and those in need of medical help was impacted.
Despite the cowardly and senseless efforts of a few, the community in Derry City and Strabane can be assured that their local officers will continue to work to keep them safe
“The actions of those behind what was an attack on the community are reckless and futile.
“We hope the driver who was caught up in this horrific ordeal can recover and our thoughts are with him today.
“Despite the cowardly and senseless efforts of a few, the community in Derry City and Strabane can be assured that their local officers will continue to work to keep them safe.”
Asked if police believed dissident republicans were responsible for the latest attack, the officer said: “It is the obvious line of inquiry at the minute.
“My colleague on Friday thought given the location and nature the New IRA was the most likely grouping and I have nothing to disagree with that at this point in time.”
While cordons remain in place in the wider Crescent Link area of Derry as officers conduct their enquiries, the main Crescent Link has reopened.
Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill said the community needed to unite against “these reckless actions”.
She tweeted: “Reports from Derry extremely concerning. Have spoken to PSNI for assessment.
“More chaos and disruption for the local community.
“These people that reach for the past need to hear that’s it’s not available to them.
“We must all unite against these reckless actions.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said those behind the security alert had nothing to offer.
Mr Eastwood said: “This horrendous incident has shocked people in Derry and right across the north as they wake up to what’s happened on Monday morning.
“Ordinary people who are getting ready to do a day’s work, children preparing for school and the community as a whole have been impacted, with significant disruption caused as a result.
“Our thoughts are with the driver who has been through a terrible ordeal and all the people affected.
“Nobody should be subjected to this kind of attack while out trying to earn a living.
“Those behind this are achieving nothing by disrupting the lives of people in our city. They enjoy no support in this community and are actively harming the cause of Irish unity through their futile actions.”
DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “I was on the ground all night. I commend the community centre staff for rallying to help families.
“Babies who needed milk. Children who needed somewhere to sleep. Nurses coming off shift who needed somewhere to lie down.
“The disruption has been incredible but so has the community response.”
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