Viable explosive device found under police officer’s car

Police have condemned “anti-peace” dissident republicans who placed an improvised bomb under a serving officer’s car in east Belfast.

A tournament being held at the Shandon Park Golf Club was cancelled when the device was found on Saturday afternoon and at least 70 people were evacuated.

Army experts were called to the scene and, following examination, declared the device viable.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Superintendent Sean Wright said: “Our belief is that this attempted murder was carried out by violent dissident republicans.

“They don’t care who they attack, they don’t care who they kill. They are simply anti-peace and anti-democracy.”

The golf course is situated near the headquarters of the PSNI.

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process pose a serious threat to the security forces and have used similar methods to attack their members in the past.

Club member Alan Paterson said an individual leaving the course noticed something under a car.

Someone immediately informed police and club members.

Shandon Park Golf Club alert
Shandon Park Golf Club alert

He added: “Within several minutes the police arrived and identified the object and said that they felt it was viable and that they should immediately evacuate the clubhouse and surrounding area, and also get everybody else off the golf course.

“It is very disappointing that things have been disrupted.”

Mr Wright, who leads the Terrorism Investigation Unit, 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.

“In placing such a device, terrorists have also put the officer’s family, neighbours and members of the public at serious risk.

“Attacks on police officers are attacks on the entire community and they are an attack on our democracy.

Shandon Park Golf Club alert
Shandon Park Golf Club alert

“Anyone who places an explosive device under a car in a built-up area cares little about our communities.

“Their reckless violence cannot be allowed to continue.”

He appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

Mr Paterson added: “We are delighted that if it was a viable device the person concerned was not injured or worse, so that is a big plus for everybody.

“We are a very mixed club. It is east Belfast, yes, but it is a mixed club and this sort of thing should not happen – it just should not happen.”

It is understood the car park area is covered by CCTV and footage will be scrutinised by detectives.

Shandon Park Golf Club alert
Shandon Park Golf Club alert

The car park was packed with the vehicles of golfers attending a vice-captain’s day tournament.

A robot was used to investigate the suspect device.

Mark Lindsay, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland which represents officers, said: “We condemn this attack to murder a police officer. Someone whose sole role is to serve the community.

“Our thoughts are very much with this officer and his family in what are very traumatic circumstances, and would once again call on all sections of our community to isolate these terrorists who still have nothing to offer.”