Delivery van hijack “terrifying”

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Those who ordered a delivery driver to take a suspected bomb into the city centre at gunpoint last night have been roundly condemned.

Dozens of Creggan residents were caught up in the bomb alert after the driver- believed to have been delivering groceries in the area- stopped his van at Fanad Drive and the alarm was raised.

The security alert in the Fanad Drive area of Derry lasted several hours and the device was declared a hoax.

Police said today that at approximately 8.45pm a van was stopped in the Iniscarn Road area by two men, one who was carrying a suspected firearm. Both had their faces covered.

A suspicious object was placed in the van and the driver was told to make his way to The Diamond.

The driver abandoned the van at Fanad Drive where he alerted police.

The incident mirrors an earlier hijacking in the Galliagh area this week.

Commenting on the latest alert, Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan, the Foyle Area Commander, said:

“For the second time in 48 hours a security alert has caused a great deal of inconvenience to the people of Derry. Yet again a man was going about his normal day-to-day work when he was confronted by masked men and ordered to drive with what he was told was a bomb into the city centre.

“A large number of people had to leave their homes last night because of the misguided actions of the people responsible for this incident.

“It is important that we get this information so that the people of Derry can continue to move forward and enjoy the enormous progress that this city has seen in recent years.”

He added: “Detectives in Strand Road are now investigating this incident and are appealing for anyone who has any information to contact them on the non-emergency number 101 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111; or by liaising through a community or civic representative.”

Sinn Féin Creggan Councillor Kevin Campbell condemned those responsible for the alert.

He said: “This incident serves no purpose whatsoever and must be condemned.

“It must have been terrifying experience for the driver of the van to have this happen while going about his normal business.

“Once again those responsible have shown complete disregard for the people of Creggan and the wider city.

“Residents, many of them elderly, had to be evacuated from their homes while this vehicle was examined.

“This has brought nothing but disruption to the area and it is totally unacceptable.”

Mr Campbell added: “The fact that this is the second such hijacking incident in the city in a number of days is very concerning.

“The people of Derry have made it clear they do not want this type of thing.

“The city is moving forward in an atmosphere of hope and we will not allow it to be dragged back to the past by a tiny minority intent on causing disruption.”