Northern Ireland

North Belfast: 'Substantial bomb' found in Brompton Park

Army bomb expert at alert scene
Image caption An Army bomb expert examines the device in north Belfast

A device found in north Belfast was a substantial bomb targeting police officers, the PSNI has said.

A controlled explosion was carried out on the device at the Crumlin Road junction with Brompton Park.

The PSNI are blaming dissident republicans for the bomb and said it could have caused "carnage".

Ch Supt Nigel Grimshaw said it was a "fairly substantial cylinder-type device" that was "designed to do one thing - kill".

"It was clearly placed in a position that was designed to attack police who may have been in the vicinity," he said.

"Without question, even at this stage, I am absolutely convinced it would have killed or seriously injured police had it detonated."

Image caption An Army bomb disposal robot at the scene

He said it was totally reckless to place the bomb in the area, but that had been compounded by "an absolute lack of information" to help police pinpoint where it was.

"These people have no regard for their own community," he said.

"I'm very grateful at this point in the evening that we're not dealing with severe casualties.

"We have shops to our right hand side, we have the Holy Cross monastery across the road - people would have been going about their normal business and could have been caught in an absolutely horrendous blast."

In a tweet, Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "Small minded people creating risk for communities as they attempt to kill police officers."

Officers carried out a number of searches on Friday after the alert began at about midnight.

Image caption The alert has been continuing since the early hours of Friday

North Belfast priest Fr Gary Donegan received a warning call on Thursday night.

He said: "It was literally one minute past 12 when I got the call, just a male voice stating that there was a device near the bookies.

"I asked for a codeword, there wasn't one forthcoming, and they said [the device was] at the top of Brompton Park."

Fr Donegan said he then cleared people from the area where he believed the bomb to be.

"All day there's been lockdown here until eventually the device was discovered this evening," he added.

"We've had the situation where public mass this evening, for the first time since 1869, was actually cancelled in Holy Cross church."