News24

Cop hurt in N Ireland bombing

2010-01-08 18:05

Belfast - A police officer driving to work was seriously wounded by a bomb that exploded under his car on Friday morning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

The explosion occurred after 06:30 in Randalstown, about 30km northwest of Belfast.

A spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said an army bomb-disposal unit was sent to the scene and the area had been cordoned off.

The explosion occurred in the area under the driver's seat, said Detective Chief Superintendent Derek Williamson. The 33-year-old officer, a 10-year veteran of the force, was rushed into surgery.

Prominent in community

His condition was described by police as critical.

"This is an officer who was very prominent in his own community. He is very well-known and very well respected," Williamson said.

Police believe IRA dissidents tried to kill the officer following a string of similar attacks over the past year.

Williamson said the officer was captain of the force's Gaelic Athletic Association football team and that he is enthusiast of Gaelic language pursuits - pastimes which mark him as being Catholic in Northern Ireland.

Over the past 10 years, police in Northern Ireland have worked hard to recruit Catholic officers, and the force is now 30% Catholic, up from 8%.

Dissidents disapprove of the initiative, and have particularly sought to target and intimidate Catholic officers.

Two suspects held


Irish Republican Army dissidents opposed to the outlawed group's 1997 cease-fire have repeatedly targeted police and army buildings and officers with gun and bomb attacks.

Last year dissidents killed a police officer and two soldiers in separate attacks. They also made several attempts to murder police officers with large bombs.

In October the partner of a police officer was hurt when a bomb exploded under her car in east Belfast.

The killing of the two British Army soldiers at the Massereene Barracks in March was the first slaying of British security forces in Northern Ireland since 1998, the year of the Good Friday peace accord.

Two suspected members of the Real IRA splinter group have been charged in the killings.