Belfast Police Officer Finds 'Bomb' Under Car

A viable explosive device has been found under the car of a police officer in Northern Ireland.

The bomb apparently fell off the car while it was being reversed out of his drive in east Belfast.

Army explosives experts were called to the scene at Upper Newtownards Road and used a robot to confirm that it was potentially dangerous.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "It is very fortunate that this device was detected before it exploded and that no one was killed or seriously injured.

"It was clearly intended to kill the police officer. His family and neighbours in the vicinity were also put at risk of serious harm.

"Obviously there are people out there who are still intent on causing murder and mayhem. 

"Attacks on police officers are attacks on the entire community and cannot be allowed to continue." 

He blamed dissident republicans for the attempted attack.

"They don't care who they attack, they don't care who they kill. They are simply anti-peace and determined to carry on bringing pain and devastation to families and communities by maiming and killing," he said.

A number of houses were evacuated and the Stormont Presbyterian Church was been opened for any residents in need. Part of the Upper Newtownards Road was closed.

The police officer's home is close to PSNI headquarters at Knock and the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.

There was widespread condemnation of the apparent attempted killing

The Police Federation of Northern Ireland said on Twitter: "PSNI officer escapes terror bid to murder him at Belfast home with under car bomb. Total disregard for life of officer and family."

SDLP Policing Board member Conall McDevitt called it "a cynical and deplorable act".

"Those seeking to target police officers are undermining not only the stated will of the people of Ireland who have long since rejected violence, but also the desire for a new beginning for policing in the North, which is shared by the majority of citizens," he said.

Robin Newton, a DUP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said on Twitter: "The bomb attack on PSNI officer in East Belast is a wicked and evil act that needs to be condemned by all right thinking people."

Dissidents have repeatedly targeted members of the security forces in recent years.

In November, long-serving prison officer David Black, 52, was shot dead in an ambush as he drove to work in co. Armagh. A group calling itself the "new IRA" claimed it carried out the attack.

In April 2011, newly qualified police officer Ronan Kerr, 25, died when a booby-trap car bomb exploded under his vehicle at his home in Omagh.

Police want to hear from anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity on the Upper Newtownards Road between the junction of Cabinhill Park and Knock Road between Friday afternoon and Sunday lunchtime.

Detectives can be contacted on 0845 600 8000 or information can be passed anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555111.