Police escape injury in County Fermanagh bomb attack

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Police officers have escaped injury in a bomb explosion in County Fermanagh.

The explosion happened at Wattlebridge, near Newtownbutler, close to the Irish border, during a security operation launched after a warning was received. 

Police said it was a "deliberate attempt" to lure officers and Army colleagues into the area "to murder them". 

The attack was "indiscriminate and reckless", said Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin.

It is understood a hoax device was found on Sunday night and during a follow-up search of the area on Monday morning, a bomb went off.

DCC Martin said about 10:35 BST on Monday, police officers at the scene reported an explosion in the area of the Cavan Road at its junction with the Wattlebridge Road.

There were no reports of any injuries and officers were investigating the cause of the explosion.

The initial report received by police indicated that a device had been left on the Wattlebridge Road, he said, however the explosion occurred on the main A3 Cavan Road.

"Although this device was intended to kill police and army personnel the fact that it was placed on a main road the result could well have been devastating for anyone in the immediate vicinity," he added.

"This attack was indiscriminate and reckless and, whilst there is no doubt in my mind that police responding to this call were the target, the reality is that anyone could have been caught up in the explosion. 

"We are extremely fortunate that the actions of officers who were first on scene meant that there was not serious injury or death."

He said the area around the scene would remain closed for some time while police officers "conduct their investigations and ensure the area is safe".

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew condemned the attack.

She said it was "totally wrong".

"Thankfully no-one was injured in this incident but we could have been dealing with a situation where people were seriously injured or worse," she said.

"Those responsible for this incident have nothing to offer society and need to end these actions immediately."

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the attack was "typical of the modus operandi of dissident republican groups who in recent times have planted hoax devices to lure security forces into an area to be attacked".

"Every reasonable person will condemn this and see it for what it is, part of an ongoing campaign to murder police officers in Northern Ireland," he said. 

BBC News 

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Friday, 05 March 2021

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