Bomb Anger

The Real IRA have claimed responsibility for the bomb attack on the City of Culture offices on Custom House Street in the early hours of yesterday morning.

A caller claiming to represent the group contacted the 'Journal' using a recognised codeword to say it had carried out the attack on what it described as "a UK target".

The explosion caused minor damage to the office, which co-ordinates efforts to prepare for Derry's term as the first UK City of Culture in 2013.It happened at around 3.30am yesterday. Glass in the door of the office shattered but no one was injured in the blast.

The PSNI said the blast was caused by "a small device".

The area around the blast scene was cordoned off yesterday morning, causing problems for pedestrians trying to get to work and schools during the morning rush hour. A number of local businesses, including a supermarket, were also closed while British army bomb disposal experts and PSNI forensic officers examined the scene.

The cordon, which extended from Shipquay Place to the Strand Road end of Waterloo Place, was lifted shortly before 12.30pm yesterday.

The bomb attack has been condemned by local politicians but the Mayor of Derry said it would not deter preparations for the City of Culture celebrations.

Colr. Eastwood said; "We've a strong agenda for change and attempts to deflect the city from this path are unhelpful. This journey of change will continue and we will not be deterred."

Foyle MP Mark Durkan said the bombers are anti-Derry. "The people behind this attack have only proved that they are against positive things happening in Derry.

"It is the people behind the City of Culture, those who are selling it and attracting new visitors to Derry, who are the real patriots – not those who would plant this type of device."

Sinn Fin councillor Paul Fleming said those responsible have nothing to offer local people. "There are people working very hard at the City of Culture offices to attract investment, tourism and jobs for the citizens of Derry and working to ensure that Irish culture in fully included in the plans for Derry in 2013. The last thing they need is incidents like this, undermining that good work."

PSNI detectives want to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time. "They would particularly like to speak to any taxi drivers who were in the area and may have been picked up two men in dark clothing," a spokesperson said.