Device explodes in postal van at Palace Barracks near Belfast


A small device has exploded inside a postal van at an army base in Northern Ireland, police said.

A fire broke out on Friday morning at Palace Barracks, Holywood, Co Down, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed. The flames spread to two other vehicles and garages within the sprawling complex.

Palace Barracks is close to Belfast and is one of the main army bases in Northern Ireland.

A PSNI statement said on Friday: "Detectives from PSNI Serious Crime Branch can confirm that a small explosion occurred inside the rear of a postal vehicle within Palace Barracks in Holywood this morning."

The postal worker who had been driving the van was not inside when the explosion occurred.

Due to the damage caused by fire and water, the exact nature or make up of the device that caused the explosion has yet to be established, police said.

In May two bombs were found close to an army reserve base in Londonderry in Northern Ireland's North West.

Palace Barracks houses the Northern Ireland headquarters of secret service MI5, overlooking Belfast Lough a few miles from the city.

The Real IRA, a dissident republican organisation opposed to the peace process, has admitted it was behind a car bomb which exploded outside the army base in April 2010.

A series of letter bombs was sent to army recruitment centres in England last year which Scotland Yard linked to dissidents.

There were no reports of any injuries following the blaze.

Soldiers from The Royal Scots Borderers The Royal Regiment of Scotland have been stationed at Palace Barracks since August 2014.

Supt Karen Baxter said just after 10:35am on Friday police received a report that a postal van was on fire within the Palace complex.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) attended and extinguished the blaze, however the vehicle was extensively damaged. The flames had also spread to two other vehicles as well as nearby garages, she added.

"Fortunately the postal worker who had been driving this van was not inside when the explosion occurred.

"Although we have no information to suggest there may be other similar packages in the postal system we are working closely with Royal Mail to mitigate any potential risk."

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Stormont Assembly member Alex Easton said: "I am deeply angry and concerned that there has been an attempt to kill somebody or soldiers inside Palace Barracks.

"This is a very worrying development and I would totally and utterly condemn it.

"I am just relieved no one was seriously injured or killed and I would appeal to anyone who has any information to bring it to police to put those involved behind bars where they belong."

Scottish soldiers moved from Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh to Palace Barracks in August 2014.