Gun attack on PSNI officers in West Belfast 'attempted murder'


Police are treating a gun attack on two officers in West Belfast as attempted murder.

Up to eight shots were fired at their vehicle while it was parked in the Rossnareen Avenue area of Andersonstown shortly before 7pm on Thursday.

Several rounds hit the passenger side of the car, but both officers escaped unhurt.

Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) described the shooting as reckless.

He said: "This was a mindless and reckless attempt to kill police officers who were carrying out routine duties as part of an investigation into serious crime.

"Thankfully it failed.

"The two officers were badly shaken but were not physically injured."

Last week a member of the Travelling community was critically injured after he was shot in the head in the same area.

Mr Grimshaw said a review of procedures would be carried out in the wake of the attack but officers would not be put off carrying out their daily duties.

He added: "This will not deter these officers or their colleague in providing a much-needed and increasingly valued police service in West Belfast. 

"Those who believe that trying to kill officers will achieve anything are deluded."

The attack has been condemned by Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey, who said it was fortunate there were no fatalities.

He said: "This attack happened in the early evening in a busy area and could have killed or seriously injured anyone in the area at the time.

"Thankfully, no-one was injured, but it was a frightening experience for people in the area.

"Those responsible have nothing to offer the community, they do not speak for local people and need to end these reckless and futile actions immediately. We will not allow them to drag us back to the past."

Debbie Watters, vice chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, said: "I'm thankful that the officers in the police car escaped without injury but this was certainly not the intent of those responsible.

"People in the community could have got caught up in this attack and it just shows the complete disregard that these people have for the area."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the PSNI on 101.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson has added his condemnation.

He said on Twitter: "My thoughts are with the officers targeted in Belfast. A futile act which could have resulted in carnage for anyone in the vicinity."

Justice Minister David Ford described the attack as "appalling".

He said: "This was clearly an attempt to kill police officers serving the community.

"Those responsible for this cowardly act have shown absolutely no regard for local residents. I am very thankful that no one was injured."