Northern Ireland

Suspect device reported in Belfast security alert

Robot in Poleglass Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A bomb disposal robot was pictured searching the area

Police have extended a security cordon in west Belfast as they search for a suspect device.

SDLP councillor Brian Heading said the device had been abandoned in Poleglass by a new dissident group who "aren't wanted in our communities".

The security operation began on the Bell Steel Road and Pantridge Road at about 13:00 GMT on Monday.

A number of families remain out of their homes.

Image caption There was disruption to traffic near Poleglass on Tuesday evening

Sinn Féin councillor Stephen Magennis said the alert was raised after "coded warning phone calls" by those "believed to be from a dissident organisation".

In a Facebook post, he said those behind the alert had "put this community at risk".

It is understood that the search for the suspect device is taking place at several locations in Poleglass.

Police said on Tuesday afternoon that the Bell Steel Road, Pantridge Road, Pembroke Loop Road and Brians Well Road remain closed to traffic while the security operation continues.

Mr Magennis said the alert had caused "widespread disruption" for workers and residents.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A number of families have been moved from their homes

"Healthcare workers contacted me this morning to say they visit the elderly in those areas and they cannot get in to do their job to look after them," he added.

Insp Paul Noble said police are still looking for the device and he advised the public not to touch any suspicious object.

His colleague, Supt Robert Murdie, said that those responsible for the alert "wish to instil fear, disrupt the community and attempt to detract officers from delivering the policing service the local community of west Belfast want and deserve".

He said he understood that the searches caused disruption to people in the area, but he said they are required to keep people safe.