The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have defused a car bomb they say was intended to attack a police patrol. The explosive device was discovered in a vehicle in the town of Derry near the border with the Republic of Ireland, the police said on Tuesday.
The police suspect the dissident New IRA were behind the attempted bombing, which they say would have “killed or mutilated anyone near it” had it detonated.
Officers found the explosive device while looking for New IRA bomb-making equipment in the Creggan Heights area of the city. The PSNI later said 15 families who were evacuated could return to their dwellings, according to reporting in the Guardian.
During the search of the suspicious vehicle on Monday evening, the officers were attacked by a crowd of demonstrators with dozens of incendiary devices. “During the operation a crowd of 60-100 persons gathered, some of whom attacked police vehicles with missiles and over 40 petrol bombs.
“Police believe at least two young people sustained burn injuries when they tried to use petrol bombs to attack the police cordon. No police officers were injured,” the PSNI said in a statement.
The car bomb was discovered in the same Creggan housing estate in which journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead in April, during rioting orchestrated by the New IRA.
The New IRA is a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The IRA fought a three-decade long campaign of violence against British rule in Northern Ireland before signing up to the Belfast Peace Agreement on Good Friday 1998.
Political tensions in Northern Ireland have recently increased again, with Brexit scheduled for 31 October and the lack of agreement between the EU and the UK on a future border agreement between EU Member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is due to leave the block with the rest of the UK.