Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Police in Northern Ireland are investigating the alleged attempted murder of two police officers in a bomb attack on Thursday night.

A suspected improvised explosive device damaged a police vehicle in Strabane, County Tyrone at around 11pm. The two policemen escaped unharmed.

Residents of the Mount Carmel Heights area described a loud bang. The incident appears to have been a targeted attack on police and is being treated as attempted murder, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement. A security alert in Strabane on Friday affected hundreds of homes.

We can confirm that the current security alert in the Mount Carmel Heights area of ​​Strabane appears to have been a targeted attack on police shortly before 11pm last night, Thursday 17 November. pic.twitter.com/9zz6Nu8lLG

— City of Derry and Strabane Police (@PSNIDCSDistrict) November 18, 2022

Suspicion has fallen on dissident republicans who have organized sporadic attacks on police and prison staff in recent years. The New IRA has a small base of support in Derry, 14 miles north of Strabane.

Police representatives and politicians condemned the attack. “The terrorists’ aim was to cause pain and misery and return Northern Ireland to the dark ages,” said Liam Kelly, chairman of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland. “Nothing is gained by such a callous, hate-filled incident. The terrorist threat has been assessed as ‘significant’ and I would urge all officers to increase their vigilance.”

Kelly appealed to the public to help find those responsible. “This was a desperate, reckless act. This will not prevent our colleagues from doing their jobs professionally and with dedication.”

The Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said any attempt to kill or injure police officers was shocking and should be condemned. He was speaking during a visit to the town of Newry on the Northern Ireland border.

Maolíosa McHugh, a Sinn Féin member of the Stormont assembly, said the attack could have ended in devastating tragedy. “There is no place for this type of activity in our society and those responsible should get off the back of the community.”

Derek Hussey, an Ulster Unionist Party councillor, said the attackers were cowards and thugs. “Any support they have is negligible as the people of Strabane and the rest of Northern Ireland have shown time and time again that they want nothing to do with this kind of madness.”

Dissident republicans who reject the peace process and believe the Provisional IRA has sold out have staged sporadic violence since the Good Friday Agreement, including the killing of writer Lyra McKee during the 2019 Derry riots.