Explosive devices left on a public walkway in Derry on Thursday night were similar in size to a bomb which wrecked the Santander bank in the city’s Diamond last year, a senior police officer has revealed .
Acting Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said that those responsible for planting two ‘viable’ bomb devices close to the Derry City Council offices on Strand Road showed “utter recklessness.”
He was speaking after two devices were discovered at the riverfront walkway at the rear of the Council offices.
The bombs, one a pipe bomb and the other a timed device, were found by a volunteer from Foyle Search and Rescue at 8.45pm on Thursday.
The pipe bomb was found in a holdall just inside the railings at the Council offices while the second device was attac hed to a bicycle chained to the railings at the public walkway, approximately ten metres away.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday at local PSNI headquarters, Acting CI Burrows said the devices were the size of the bomb which extensively damaged the Santander bank in the Diamond last year and had the potential to kill anyone passing by.
“I am under no doubt that the second device was designed to kill the police officer of army disposal officer who came to look at the first device. This is utter recklessness,” he said.
“The bike was on the public path where joggers and others pass by. This is Freshers’ Week with the city full of young people. We are lucky that these mindless thugs have not killed someone in this city,” he added.
Acting CI Burrows paid tribute to the Foyle Search and Rescue volunteers who found the devices.
He went on; “What a contrast between Foyle Search and Rescue who give up their time to protect the people of this city and those who are trying to kill? ”
These devices were left in the open in a very public place where people walk past and I am thankful for the actions of Foyle Search and Rescue and grateful that there has not been a fatality,” he said.
The PSNI chief said police officers were the target of the bombs but said anyone could have been killed or injured. “Their aim may have been to kill police officers but they were more than happy to take the risk of killing innocent civilians.
“We also live in a town where people go out and have a drink and sometimes young people look to interfere with a bike and look to pinch it to drive it home. What a terrible price they would have paid,” he said.
Acting CI Burrows said he believes the bombers want to damage the reputation of the city which will host the first UK City of Culture in 2013.
“These people are trying to cause death and destruction, they forced people out of their homes, damaged the good name of Derry. What would business people think who want to invest here? What would people who want to come and visit the events next year think?
“These individuals are selfish, they have a narrow agenda and they are prepared to kill,” he said.