Northern Ireland

Belfast alert caused by 'elaborate hoax'

An object which prompted a security alert and led to a number of homes in west Belfast being evacuated has been declared "an elaborate hoax".

It was discovered on Fort Street at about 1430 GMT on Monday.

Police said a controlled explosion was carried out on the device by Army bomb experts.

Residents have now been allowed to return to their homes.

In a statement, PSNI Inspector Roy Watton thanked local residents for their patience during the examination of the object.

He strongly condemned the incident and said the lives of residents had been put at risk by "a cowardly element intent on causing as much disruption as they can".

"There have been a number of incidents such as this in the past few weeks and each one must be treated as a potential threat to the lives of the local community," he said.

"The people who carry out these senseless acts show a total disregard for their fellow man and are not part of the society within which the majority of people of Northern Ireland wish to live."