Video: Armed groups using riots to target police, says senior Derry police officer

Senior Derry police officer, Superintendent Gordon McCalmont, has accused ‘violent dissident republicans’ of using the cover of rioting youths twice this week to attempt to murder members of the PSNI in the city.

Superintendent McCalmont was reacting to a gun attack on officers on the Derry Walls late on Tuesday night and the planting of two improvised bombs that were discovered in the early hours of yesterday.

A strike mark made by one of at least six automatic weapon rounds fired at police on the Derry Walls on Tuesday night.

A strike mark made by one of at least six automatic weapon rounds fired at police on the Derry Walls on Tuesday night.

In reference to the ‘crude but viable’ bombs that were made safe by ammunition technical officers (ATO) yesterday, he said: “The devices were discovered at 3.40 a.m. We immediately put an operation into place to secure the area and keep people safe.

“The devices were examined by ATO and declared to be crude but viable. They were made safe and were taken away for further examination. No residents were evacuated and no roads were closed.

“This was a reckless act and those responsible have shown a blatant disregard for life.

“Our officers are working hard to keep people safe and there can be no justification whatsoever for this.”

Superintendent McCalmont said Tuesday night’s gun attack on officers was equally irresponsible and could have easily resulted in the deaths, not only of police officers, but of members of the public.

Six automatic rounds were fired towards police, over St. Columb’s Wells, after a crowd congregated at the bottom of Westland Street scattered at approximately 11.30 p.m on Tuesday night.

And while the gunman or woman missed their mark striking only the Derry Walls and some trees, the result could have been a lot worse.

“We are very lucky as a community, that we are not talking about the death of a police officer,” he maintained.

Superintendent McCalmont had no doubt that ‘violent dissident republicans’ moved in early this week to use low level rioting by young people looking for an adrenalin rush as an opportunity to target police.

“This is violent dissident republicans out to kill police officers. I think it’s a fair assumption for us all and it’s not just me talking . . . I certainly believe violent dissident republicans, in recent days, have moved in to exploit a situation where young people have been involved in that disorder. That is a fair assumption.”