Derry and Strabane District Commander Superintendent Gordon McCalmont has said it was 'terrifying' to hear a local mother recount how close her children had been to a mortar device that failed to deploy in Strabane at the weekend.
He said the the device had been left in a "very unstable condition" close to residential homes in the Church View area behind Strabane PSNI station.
Superintendent McCalmont said the "recklessness" of the 'New IRA' whom he blamed for the attempt was "astounding".
The District Commander said he believed the group had intended firing an explosive shell over housing into the police station.
"Our assessment is this was a mortar-type device designed to be shot into Strabane police station," he said.
He said it was his "professional assessment [that] for some reason it has failed to deploy."
In a statement issued on Monday morning Superintendent McCalmont said: "It is our assessment that the 'New IRA' is responsible for the mortar device that was discovered outside homes in Church View Close in Strabane on Saturday morning September 7.
"The people who left this device had every intention of killing my colleagues serving the Strabane community. They showed no regard for the families, elderly and vulnerable people who were forced to leave their homes and whose lives were put at risk. As a parent myself it was terrifying to hear local mother Aileen Mullan recount how close her children were to this deadly device.
"The New IRA members behind this attack are living in the community. They are building bombs and storing weapons and placing the community at risk.
"Our focus will remain on keeping the community safe against the threat posed by these violent groups and I would strongly urge people to report any suspicions they have about dangerous and illegal activity in our community."
The Chair of the Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership, Councillor Sandra Duffy said: "Leaving this deadly device in a built up area clearly shows that those behind this action have absolutely no concern for people living in the area.
"My thoughts are with the residents and families living in the Church View area who have, no doubt, been traumatised by these events. I would urge anyone with information on this incident to contact the PSNI or Crimestoppers immediately.”