News24

Bomb disrupts N Ireland poll count

2010-05-07 09:28

Belfast - A viable car bomb device was left outside a vote counting centre in Northern Ireland, triggering a security alert and halting the general election count, police said on Friday.

A hijacked car was ditched outside the Templemore Leisure Centre in Londonderry, Northern Ireland's second city, disrupting the counts going on inside.

The building was evacuated, with election staff and counters and supporters of the various candidates among those having to leave. The Foyle and East Londonderry constituency counts were being conducted inside.

Northern Ireland's security forces had been on high alert for the general election. The province returns 18 lawmakers to the British parliament.

Last month they warned that dissident Republicans opposed to the peace process posed the biggest threat to security in the province since the 1998 Omagh bombing, the most deadly attack during the 30 years of The Troubles.

"The security alert in the Templemore Leisure Centre is ongoing," a police spokeswoman said. "However, ATO (army ammunition technical officer) has examined the vehicle and has declared that it contained a viable device.

"Roads have been reopened but the car park remains closed and the count continues."

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, who lost his seat in the British parliament, said: "It is vital that we do not go back to the bad old days of the past though there are those who would seek to drag us there.

"Even tonight we have seen that there are those who would like to do it by the bomb - and in the election we have seen those who would like to do it through the ballot box.

"But we will continue to look positively at the future of Northern Ireland."