A bomb left under a soldier's car in Bangor, County Down, could have caused devastation, police have said.
It is understood the Army major found the booby-trap device lying on his driveway after it fell off his vehicle.
Up to 30 houses were evacuated while the Army carried out a controlled explosion. Dissident republicans are suspected to be behind the attack.
Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said "the results could have been catastrophic" if the bomb had gone off.
The detective said the Chatsworth cul-de-sac where the soldier lives was a quiet residential area and the bomb "could have killed or caused very serious injury".
He said the soldier "should count himself very lucky" following the attack, which he said "bore all the hallmarks of dissident republicans".
The attack came a day after a car bomb exploded outside a police station in Londonderry.
No-one was injured in the explosion but several buildings were damaged in the attack which has also been blamed on dissident republicans.
On Wednesday, local DUP assembly member Peter Weir said those who had carried out the attack in Bangor were "intent on murder".
"These terrorists have no support in the community and are beneath contempt.
"At this time the thoughts of everyone go out to the soldier and his family who have been callously targeted by these lawless criminals," he said.
"I have no doubt that by their actions, the criminals are trying to send a message that they can come in to a law-abiding and peaceful part of Northern Ireland in order to peddle their own brand of evil.
"They are mistaken."
SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness said the attack suggested a high level of intelligence is in the hands of those responsible.
"There should be a full and frank statement from the PSNI indicating who is responsible for this attack that informs on the nature and capacity of the explosive device, on how sophisticated it was."
Palace Barracks, one of Northern Ireland's main army bases is just a few miles from Bangor.
In January, dissident republicans seriously injured a police officer in a booby-trap bomb attack in County Antrim.
That followed an attempt to kill a policeman in east Belfast when a similar device exploded under his girlfriend's car.