Galliagh alert: Questions over pedestrian near miss

Police and the British Army have responded to concerns raised following the controlled detonation of an elaborate hoax bomb, seconds after a woman walked past it.

Ballyarnett Independent Councillor Warren Robinson said people needed answers about the security operation after video footage was circulated charting the pedestrian’s close call in the Glengalliagh Park area on Sunday night.

A still from the video footage captured by local man Sean Haslett, and which has gone viral.

A still from the video footage captured by local man Sean Haslett, and which has gone viral.

Around 20 families were evacuated while others decided not to leave their homes.

Colr. Robinson said that after watching the video he was “shocked.”

He said: “In the video a woman can be clearly seen walking past the army robot and within 10 seconds the robot carries out a controlled explosion on something on the ground.

“Pieces of this item were seen flying through the air as a result of the controlled explosion.”

He claimed: “The PSNI and British Army have serious questions to answer here. The PSNI cordon didn’t prevent the woman from walking past the device and those controlling the robot displayed a reckless attitude towards people in Galliagh by detonating the charge a matter of seconds after the woman walked past.”

PSNI Chief Inspector Paul McCracken responded: “The police’s primary objective was to protect the community from harm.

“Therefore, we had total regard for the safety of the local residents.

“Police took a number of steps to make the area safe including erecting cordons, advising local residents to evacuate and providing advice to residents who elected to stay. While procedures were ongoing to make safe the suspicious object, police and ATO were obliged to take protective cover, reducing their visibility.

“When police became aware of the female, they immediately approached her and guided her from the area.

“I would again stress the importance of following the advice given by police in situations such as this.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman, meanwhile, said: “General security and the provision and maintenance of cordons during security alerts are a matter for the police.

“ATO is tasked by the police to deal specifically with the clearance of suspicious items.

“Each tasking has its own peculiar set of challenges in its preparation and execution; challenges identified will be reviewed and will inform future taskings.”