Londonderry bombing: Third alert follows weekend attack

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Media captionThe moment the bomb exploded on Saturday

Three separate security alerts are under way in Londonderry – 48 hours after a bomb exploded in the city.

The area around the courthouse in Bishop Street has now reopened following an explosion in a car on Saturday night.

The grandfather of a 14-year-old girl who walked past the bomb shortly before it exploded has spoken of his shock.

Police said four out of five men arrested in connection with the attack have been released unconditionally.

A 50-year-old man arrested earlier on Monday remains in police custody.

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The remains of the bombed-out car are removed from Bishop Street on Monday night

The PSNI said Saturday’s attack may have been carried out by the New IRA, a dissident republican group.

On Monday, the Army was called to two security alerts in the city involving reported hijackings.

Army bomb disposal officers carried out a controlled explosion in Creggan’s Circular Road after a vehicle was hijacked by three masked men at 11:30 GMT on Monday.

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Media caption‘This House stands with Northern Ireland’

The second alert on Southway, also in Creggan, followed reports of a vehicle being hijacked by four masked men at 13:45 GMT.

Security cordons at the scene of both alerts have been reduced in the area to allow some residents who had been moved from their homes to return.

PSNI Supt Gordon McCalmont said the security alerts in Creggan “means even more disruption for the local community.”

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A number of residents have been moved from their homes as police deal with an abandoned vehicle on the Northland Road

In a third incident, the police are responding to a report of an abandoned lorry on the Northland Road close to the Glenbank Road junction.

A number of residents have been moved from their homes. A nearby community centre has been opened to people who have been affected.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said the area was largely populated by older people.

“When you see frail pensioners in their late 80s and 90s being forced to leave their homes in their dressing gowns, it really is despicable.

“There is a huge sense of anxiety right across the city, and a huge sense of anger right across the city and understandably so,” he said.

What is the New IRA?

  • The New IRA was formed in 2012 after a number of dissident republican organisations said they were unifying under one leadership
  • It is believed to be the largest dissident republican organisation
  • The group is believed to have been responsible for a number of attacks since its formation, including the murders of prison officers David Black and Adrian Ismay.

Mr Durkan added: “This is not serving any purpose, it’s not furthering any cause, and all it’s doing is causing disruption and destruction on our city.”

In a post on the PSNI Foyle Facebook page, police also confirmed “there has been an attempted hijacking of a local bus service” in the Galliagh area of the city”.

Saturday’s bomb exploded outside the city’s courthouse on Bishop Street shortly after a pizza delivery vehicle was hijacked at gun point.

A CCTV clip posted on Twitter by police showed a group of seven young people walking past the vehicle shortly before the blast.

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Media captionA timeline of events leading up to the explosion in Derry

Addressing MPs in the Commons on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This house stands together with the people of Northern Ireland in ensuring that we never go back to the violence and terror of the past.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley told MPs those behind the attack “will never succeed”.

“Londonderry is a city that has thrived since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago – everyone can see that – and one that will continue to grow and develop despite the actions of those who seek to sow discord and division,” she said.

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The alert at Southway is the second in the Creggan area of the city

DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted that the PSNI “needs our full support to remove those responsible from our streets”.

Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell said there can be “no justification for this type of reckless activity”.

“Those responsible for this disruption have shown complete disregard for the people of Creggan, particularly elderly people who live in this area,” he said.

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Houses were evacuated in the Creggan area

Courthouse closed

At the courthouse in Derry, scheduled jury trials have been put off until Wednesday.

Cases listed to be heard in the magistrate’s courts werea being held in Strabane, with some other hearings switching to Coleraine.

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A forensic officer examines the remains of the vehicle following Saturday night’s explosion

Driver ‘threatened and intimidated’

PSNI Supt Gordon McCalmont told BBC Radio Foyle the police were trying to get the city back to normal and show the attack had “little or no long-term impact”.

He said the PSNI was “lucky we are not talking about loss of life”.

Supt McCalmont also said the pizza delivery driver whose vehicle was hijacked and used in Saturday’s bombing “had to go through the drama of having a firearm put to his head”.

“He was threatened and intimidated. It would be fair to say he was asked not to raise the alarm.”

He added: “These groupings obviously want us to respond. We will be very balanced. This threat has always been in this city.

“My sense is that this is not because of Brexit.”

Staff Writer
The above article is by a guest contributor, or shared from another news outlet.