Call for dedicated bomb squad base in the North

Call for dedicated bomb squad base in the North

Army bomb squad officers were called out almost every day in the North within the space of a year, new figures have revealed.

Between August 2012 and July 2013, the specialist disposal teams attended 347 alerts across Northern Ireland.

In just five months between August and December last year, the military responded to 168 incidents in the north west prompting calls for a dedicated base for bomb disposal teams to be set up in the area.

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell, who is leading the calls, said: “A high number of terrorist attacks carried out by dissident republicans have occurred in the north west area since 2009 particularly around Londonderry and the border area.

“There is a logistical issue regarding the time taken for the bomb disposal unit to reach the scene, this often means where a device hasn’t exploded, homes being evacuated and people having to move temporarily to a place of safety until the device can be defused.

“Consideration should be given to having a secure base for an Army bomb disposal unit in the north west to respond speedily to potential bomb attacks.”

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process have been responsible for the majority of bomb attacks.

InDerry, they have targeted the city’s main police station at Strand Road on a number of occasions; have hijacked buses and taxis with claims of bombs on board and have brought severe traffic disruption with a number of hoax alerts.

In Belfast last year, dissidents detonated a device in the Cathedral Quarter and also forced a driver to transport a bomb to the Victoria Square shopping centre.

Loyalists were also blamed for a spate of pipe bomb attacks.

The Army is called to deal with bomb alerts at the request of the PSNI.

A spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence said they could not comment on operational matters.

He said: “We provide a service as required forth Police Service of Northern Ireland and any other emergency agencies if required.”

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