A policeman in Northern Ireland targeted by a car bomb was taking his family for Sunday lunch when he found the device, it has emerged.
Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton revealed that the officer was going out with his wife and two young children when he checked his car as a matter of routine.
He found the bomb - believed to have been planted by dissident republicans - underneath his vehicle outside his home in Belfast.
The property is close to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) headquarters at Knock and the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.
"If that officer had not checked his car, we would have been looking at a murder or multiple murders," Mr Hamilton told a news conference as he appealed for witnesses to come forward.
"We believe the consequences of this would have been absolutely devastating for the officer, his family, for the police family and for the communities across Northern Ireland.
"For some reason, those people who are anti-peace, who are still hanging on to the past, who aren't prepared to move forward, have tried to murder this officer and his family.
"We consider that completely repugnant. It's inhumane. By any standards in any society, this is wrong and we utterly condemn this attack."
He warned that there was a severe threat level across Northern Ireland and appealed to officers to be vigilant and check under their cars.
It is hoped that the bomb will be useful as evidence because it was discovered and did not engage.
Justice minister David Ford said: "It is ironic that this latest attack was carried out so close to Stormont, where those who are democratically elected seek to move matters forward through debate.
"The people responsible for this and other recent attacks have no mandate and speak for no one. They need to recognise the futility of their campaign and respect the wishes of the vast majority of our community who want an end to all violent acts."
A second device was found close to a police station in County Armagh on Monday, prompting residents to be evacuated.
The bomb in Tandragee was declared "viable" after it was examined by army technical officers but it was made safe without anyone getting hurt.
Dissidents have repeatedly targeted security force members in recent years.
Over the last five years there have been 115 arrests and 35 charges and 64 officers have had to leave their homes, a police spokesman said.
In November, long-serving prison officer David Black, 52, was shot dead in a motorway ambush in Co Armagh as he drove to work.
A group styling itself the "new IRA" claimed that attack. The faction was formed in the summer when a number of splinter groups joined forces.
In April 2011 newly qualified police officer Ronan Kerr, 25, died when a dissident booby trap car bomb exploded under his vehicle at his home in Omagh.