Police make arrests after car bomb in Northern Ireland
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Police in Northern Ireland said Sunday they suspect Irish Republican Army dissidents were behind a car bombing outside a courthouse in the city of Derry/Londonderry. Four men have been arrested.
Two men in their twenties were detained hours after the explosion on Saturday evening outside the city's courthouse. Two other men aged 34 and 42 were arrested in the city later on Sunday. No one was injured by the blast.
The device was placed inside a hijacked delivery vehicle and exploded Saturday night as police, who had received a warning, were evacuating the area. There were no reports of injuries.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland posted a photograph of a vehicle in flames and urged the public to stay away.
Police and army bomb-disposal experts remained at the scene on Sunday.
Army Technical Officers are at the scene of last night’s car bomb in #Derry. The wreckage of the vehicle can be seen on the road just outside the Court House. The area around Bishop Street within remains sealed off this morning pic.twitter.com/DFWfwXanO6Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) January 20, 2019
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the bomb had been a "crude" and unstable device, and called the attack "incredibly reckless."
"The people responsible for this attack have shown no regard for the community or local businesses," he said.
"Fortunately it didn't kill anybody but clearly it was a very significant attempt to kill people here in this community," Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told a news conference.
'Republican dissidents main line of inquiry"
Hamilton said the "main line of inquiry" was that the bomb had been planted by a group known as the New IRA, one of a small number of groups opposed to a 1998
peace deal that largely ended three decades of violence in the British-run province. They have carried out sporadic attacks in recent years.
Two men, both in their twenties, have been arrested by detectives investigating explosion outside Bishop Street courthouse in Derry/Londonderry.PSNI (@PoliceServiceNI) January 20, 2019
Northern Ireland's power-sharing government has been suspended for two years because of a dispute between the main loyalist and republican political parties. Uncertainty about the future of the Irish border after Brexit is adding to an already tense situation.
John Boyle, who is mayor of the city, said violence "is the past and it has to stay in the past."
Former Northern Irish first minister Arlene Foster, who heads the province's Democratic Unionist Party, referred to it as a "pointless act of terror", while the Republic of Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney called it a "car bomb terrorist attack".
Foster, who leads the pro-British DUP, said: "This pointless act of terror must be condemned in the strongest terms. Only hurts the people of the city.
"Perpetrated by people with no regard for life."
She said the swift actions of the emergency services had helped ensure there were no fatalities or injuries.
Coveney, also Ireland's deputy prime minister, tweeted: "I utterly condemn the car bomb terrorist attack in Derry this evening.
"There is no place and no justification possible for such acts of terror, which seek to drag Northern Ireland back to violence and conflict."
City in shock
Elisha McCallion, the local Member of the British Parliament from the Irish republican party Sinn Fein, condemned the bomb attack.
"This incident has shocked the local community," she said in a statement.
"Thankfully, no one appears to have been injured.
"Derry is a city moving forward and no one wants this type of incident."
A 1998 peace deal mostly ended three decades of conflict that killed 3,600 people and was fought between unionists, who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, and nationalists, who want the province to join the Republic.
Some sporadic violence continues among small, splinter groups but car bombings are rare in the province.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and Reuters)