Northern Ireland

Strabane taxi driver picks up viable pipe bomb

A taxi driver has picked up a pipe bomb which was thrown into a car near a health centre in Strabane.

Andy Gallagher said he put the device in his own car and drove it to a nearby field at Bradley Way because it was close to the centre.

Army technical experts were called to examine the device and a number of premises were evacuated.

The police have confirmed it was a viable pipe bomb. Bradley Way remains closed.

The alert began at 0820 after Mr Gallagher picked up the object from the car which was parked at Ballycolman Lane.

The rear window of the vehicle had been smashed.

He said he did not think he had put himself in any danger but was concerned for the safety of others.

"I saw a copper pipe with brass ends and a fuse sticking out of the middle of it.

"Obviously the fuse would need some sort of ignition from a lighter, a match or something like that to explode the device.

"So no, I don't think I was putting myself in any danger or anybody else around me."

The taxi driver, who is also involved in community work, said he made the decision to pick up the device because of its proximity to the health centre.

He said he took it to an area where he thought it would pose "no harm".

'Disgusted'

SDLP Strabane councillor Eugene McMenamin said the device was "intended to cause harm and serious disruption".

Alliance Justice spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA said: "I am disgusted that this is the fourth time this week that young children have been put at risk."

On Monday, two primary schools in Antrim were evacuated after an eight-year-old schoolboy picked up a pipe bomb in the playground of St Comgall's Primary School.

He was not injured and Army technical officers dealt with the device.

On Wednesday, about 170 pupils were moved to a community centre in Crumlin, County Antrim after a viable device was left outside an unmanned police station opposite their primary school.