A married couple targeted in a thwarted car bombing in Eglinton were both police officers, it has been confirmed.
The man and woman were at home when suspicious activity was observed outside their Glenrandel home at around 2.45am this morning (Thursday) and the bomb found underneath the vehicle.
At a press conference at Strand Road PSNI Station this morning, Derry City & Strabane District Commander Superintendant Mark McEwan said that the male officer who lived at the address and whose car was targeted has served in Derry.
“What we are dealing with is the attempted murder of a police officer,” he said.
“If circumstances had been different we could have looking at the death of an officer or the death or serious injury of somebody else.
“This is an officer who serves this community day and daily, he goes about his duty protecting the vulnerable, keeping people safe, and someone has crept in under cover of darkness and planted a bomb underneath his car.
“That has been done clearly with intent to kill or seriously injure that police officer and that’s been done with total regard for anyone else in what is a residential area.”
Supt. McEwan spoke to the couple this morning following the attempted bombing, which church leaders in the city this afternoon branded “evil”.
Confirming that there were people in the house at the time, but no children were present, he said: “They are dealing with this in a very calm and professional way, I have to say, but they are human beings.
“This is a couple here, they have children, they are somebody’s son, somebody’s daughter and somebody has put a bomb outside their house, So there is a real impact, a real human impact on not only the officers but on that community.”
He added; “There is a number of things we will do to ensure their welfare and look after the officers.”
Supt. McEwan said the fact that the bomb attack was thwarted has averted a tragedy, adding that he has been inundated with phonecalls from people right across the city expressing outrage, condemning the attack and supporting the officer targeted.
He said that there were a number of lines of inquiry being pursued, but added that “the targeted focus is violent dissident Republicans”.
He also vowed that this “won’t deter us from continuing to do what we want to do,” adding that the threat level in the north remained severe with the safety of police officers and the community a major priority for the PSNI.
Neighbours of the officers from around 14 other properties in Glenrandel were evacuated in the early hours of this morning.
ATO later confirmed that the device used was a Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device capable of causing death or serious injury.
Leaders of the four main churches in Derry have issued a joint statement condemning the attempted murder of the police officer.
Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop Ken Good, Dr Robert Buick and the Rev Peter Murray issued the statement as they met with senior police at Strand Road this afternoon.
In their statement the church leaders said: “We are appalled at the despicable attempt to murder a police officer in Eglinton this morning, and thankful and relieved that the attack was thwarted.
There can be no justification for the attempted murder. It was wrong. It was evil. It was reckless. The police have said those who left the device endangered not only the police officer but other people living in the area.
“Like the vast majority of people in our community, we had hoped that attacks like this had become a thing of the past. The use of violence has been rejected repeatedly and overwhelmingly by our community, so today’s attempted murder was an assault on us, too, and on our aspiration for a better society.
“Our people want to move forward – together – towards a better and brighter future. The bombers seem intent on taking us backwards and keeping us apart.They must not succeed.
“We, as church leaders, offer our support and prayers to the police officer who was targeted this morning and appeal for anyone with information about the incident to share it with the PSNI.”
Police are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed any vehicles seen leaving the area at speed shortly after 2.45am to contact them.
Anyone with information should contact detectives at Strand Road on 101 or alternatively contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.