Political condemnation from all parties in Northern Ireland has been widespread after two police officers escaped unhurt in a bomb attack in Strabane when their vehicle was damaged.
The PSNI confirmed that the attack, using a suspected improvised explosive device, took place in the Mount Carmel Heights area of the town of Co Tyrone and a security operation is now underway.
A heavy police presence remained circling and a helicopter circling overhead on Friday afternoon after a “loud bang” was heard in the area as the attack took place after 11pm.
The explosion happened near the former gymnasium of the Strabane Monastery.
DUP West Tyrone MLA Tom Buchanan confirmed he spoke to police in the area and said his “thoughts are with them”.
“I condemn this murderous incident. I’m glad the police officers survived this attempt to take lives,” he said.
“I grew up hearing daily news about murdered cops. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.
“Police officers have always been on the front lines to protect people and serve their community. There was never any justification for killing police officers.”
Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill said the attack was “reprehensible”.
“Those involved in this attack will not be able to push back society. We must all unite against these reckless actions. We must keep making peace and moving forward,” she said.
Unionist Ulster City Councilor Derek Hussey condemned the attack, saying it was “the work of cowards and thugs”.
“Any support they have is tiny because the people of Strabane and the rest of Northern Ireland have shown repeatedly that they want nothing to do with this kind of madness,” he said.
“Violence will not create a single job, heat a single house, or give a single child a better future.
“All those responsible have done is disrupt the local community – with 1,000 residents affected – and prevent people from going about their daily business.
“They also made sure that children cannot go to school this morning. And somehow those in charge would claim they were dealing a blow to Irish freedom.
“They are completely deluded and live in a fantasy world, while the rest of us just want to get on with our lives and our neighbors in peace.
“I urge anyone who can in any way help the police apprehend those responsible to come forward with any information they have. Those who use violence to achieve political goals are simply fascists. They have no place in this society and must be permanently put out of business.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “Lives at risk and children’s learning disrupted – for what?
“What will it achieve?”
The Police Federation of Northern Ireland – the body representing ordinary officers across the province – described the attack as a “desperate, reckless act”.
“The aim of the terrorists was to cause heartache and misery and to take Northern Ireland back to the Dark Ages,” said Chairman Liam Kelly.
“We are grateful that the officers in the vehicle attacked by these cowards escaped unharmed. The attackers wanted their roadside gadget to do maximum damage, and we’re grateful they missed their target.
“This attack reminds us all that terrorists are still active in our community. They want to maim or murder our men and women. The truth is that they are a bankrupt throwback to another era and have nothing to offer society.
“I appeal to people to help the police find those responsible and bring them to justice.”
Alliance party councilor Stephen Donnelly said his thoughts were with the officers attacked.
“We could very well be standing here today and talking about the deaths of police officers. Nobody should face such a threat just going about their business,” he added.
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said any of the residents of the 600 houses above could have walked by in the blast and certainly the two officers could have been injured or killed.
“What I’m hearing is that it was a sophisticated attack, I wouldn’t credit them with anything they’re doing that’s sophisticated, but it was obviously planned.
“The impact has been very, very difficult for this area.
“A lot of people are in great shock today. Nurses couldn’t come to work, teachers couldn’t come to school, parents couldn’t take children to school, and caregivers couldn’t come in to see vulnerable people.
“Since this is happening so close to one’s own front door, it’s raised a lot of alarms.
“The force of the blast shook houses on neighboring streets.
“I have a family that lives in the area who don’t want their children to grow up in this situation that so many have suffered in the past, 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement.”
The road is closed to motorists and motorists have been advised to avoid the area and seek alternative routes.
Police confirmed that no homes have been evacuated at this time.
A PSNI spokesman said: “Police services can confirm that the ongoing security alert in the Mount Carmel Heights area of Strabane this morning, Friday 18 November, follows what appeared to be a targeted attack on police shortly before 11pm last night .
“The investigation is at an early stage but the attack, believed to have been caused by an improvised explosive device, caused damage to a police vehicle and is being treated as the attempted murder of two officers.
“The road remains closed and motorists are advised to avoid the area. No houses have been evacuated at this time.
“Another update will be provided in due course.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/condemnation-across-political-spectrum-following-attempted-murder-bomb-attack-on-two-police-officers-in-strabane-42154729.html Police officers in Tyrone bombing: Two police officers escape injuries after Strabane bombing