Police targeted with petrol bombs in Londonderry while searching for bomb-making equipment

10 September 2019, 02:12

Officers were targeted on Londonderry's Creggan estate
Officers were targeted on Londonderry's Creggan estate. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Police were targeted with petrol bombs during searches after finding a “suspicious object” while searching for New IRA bomb-making equipment in Londonderry.

Officers were attacked on the Creggan estate on Monday night – the same area where journalist Lyra McKee was murdered in April.

Young people engaged in the disorder sustained burn injuries during the violence, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

Shocking video footage showed youths hurling missiles at police cars, which erupted into flames.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland later confirmed the object was a "viable explosive device."

The police searches were launched after a dissident republican mortar bomb was recovered in Strabane, Co Tyrone on Saturday.

The mortar, which was positioned close to a family home, was aimed at the town's police station.

It was the seventh attempted murder bid against the security forces in Northern Ireland this year.

Around 15 homes were evacuated in Creggan Heights on Monday as officers hunting for New IRA weapons identified the suspicious object.

But they tweeted soon after 5.00am that the device had been made safe and residents could return to their properties.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton described the operation around the suspicious object as "complex" as he condemned those indulging in disorder.

"This is a complex operation which is expected to continue throughout the night and we have advised those residents who have left their homes to make alternative arrangements," he said late on Monday night.

"We recognise the upheaval this has caused and we are grateful for their co-operation and understanding.

"The focus of this operation is ensuring the people of Creggan are safe however it is concerning to see significant numbers of young people on the streets, late into the night, throwing petrol bombs and other missiles at officers in the area.

"The reality is this type of disorder contributes to the complexity of the policing operation and presents a real risk of injury to those involved.

"Already we have seen two incidents this evening where young people have sustained burn injuries as result of engaging in disorder.

"I would reiterate our appeal for those young people to return home and remove themselves from the situation.

"We are grateful for the support of community representatives in helping to reduce tensions and providing space for officers to carry out the necessary work to ensure this object does not present a risk to the people of Creggan."