A bomb of “substantial” size exploded outside a police station in the Northern Irish capital Belfast on Friday, making it the second bomb attack in the country in a matter of days.
No casualties were caused by the blast as police managed to cordon off the area after receiving a warning from a Catholic priest who had received a tip-off from an anonymous caller.
Homes and businesses in the Ardoyne district were evacuated as a bomb squad searched for the device before detonating it with a controlled explosion.
According to The Independent newspaper, police said the bomb was large enough to have caused death and injury to those in its vicinity had the area not been shut down.
“If it had exploded it would have killed or seriously injured them and innocent people going about their daily lives in this area,” Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw of Belfast Police said.
“This is a residential area, a commercial area, we have Holy Cross chapel nearby where people want to go and worship. This was designed to disrupt this community at its heart.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but dissident republicans who are known for their activities in the area are suspected of being behind it.
The Ardoyne district has experienced such incidents in the past, with another bomb discovered beside the nearby church last October. A pipe bomb was also thrown at loyalist protesters in the same area in 2013.
The latest incident just comes a week after another bomb exploded outside a probation office in the city of Londonderry. The attack was blamed on the Provisional Irish Republican Army (known as IRA or PIRA).
According to the Associated Press, Colum Eastwood, a politician representing the city’s Irish nationalist majority, stated that someone called a suicide hotline claiming to be a member of IRA and informed of the bomb.
Eastwood also noted that the information provided was inadequate and was purposely provided on short notice so the police would not have enough time to evacuate local residents.
The IRA was established in 1969 to fight for the cause of Irish republicanism. The paramilitary group has carried out a number bombings and assassinations since its founding, and is also known for its involvement in smuggling and robberies.
The group says it highly condemns sectarianism and sectarian attacks, despite members of the paramilitary group having been involved in the killing of many Protestants and Catholics during the periods of 1975-1976.