Arlene Foster: Fermanagh bomb blast 'not about DUP or Sinn Fein'

An explosive device has detonated in Co Fermanagh as police and British Army bomb disposal officers were searching the area.

Arlene Foster: Fermanagh bomb blast 'not about DUP or Sinn Fein'

An explosive device has detonated in Co, Fermanagh as police and British Army bomb disposal officers were searching the area.

No one was injured in the blast at Wattle Bridge close to Newtownbutler this morning.

Bomb disposal officers – Ammunition Technical Officers (ATO) – had been in the area at the weekend responding to reports that a device had been left there.

That item was ultimately declared a hoax but another device exploded close-by at around 10.35am on Monday when a bomb disposal team was attending to review the scene. Police were also in attendance, patrolling a security cordon.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: “While this investigation is at a very early stage I am of the firm belief this was a deliberate attempt to lure police and ATO colleagues into the area to murder them.

“Although this device was intended to kill police and Army personnel the fact that it was placed on a main road the result could well have been devastating for anyone in the immediate vicinity.”

“This attack was indiscriminate and reckless and, whilst there is no doubt in my mind that police responding to this call were the target, the reality is that anyone could have been caught up in the explosion."

“We are extremely fortunate that the actions of officers who were first on scene meant that there was no serious injury or death. I wish to acknowledge and commend the bravery and commitment of those officers and Army personnel at the scene of this attack.

“I would like to again thank the community for their patience and cooperation throughout the security operation as we seek to ensure their safety. The area around the scene will remain closed for some time while our officers conduct their investigations and ensure the area is safe.

“I ask that anyone who may be able to help our investigation and identify the perpetrators of this sinister and potentially murderous attack to please come forward.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar "strongly" condemned the attack, writing on Twitter:

"I strongly condemn the cowardly actions of those responsible for the bomb attack in Co Fermanagh this morning, which could have had devastating consequences. There is never any justification to use violence to achieve political aims.

"The people of Ireland, North and South, had their say on this issue when they voted overwhelmingly and emphatically for the Good Friday Agreement. It is a considerable relief that no PSNI officers were seriously injured or killed when this bomb went off.

"We should be in no doubt that this device was intended to inflict maximum harm. I encourage anyone who has information on this incident to provide it to the PSNI, so that those responsible can be brought to justice and future attacks prevented."

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster has said that now is not the time for political point scoring: "These people need to be caught, they need to be brought to justice, and therefore this is not about the DUP and Sinn Fein today, with the greatest of respect.

"It's about the people who tried to kill police officers and army technical officers and we should keep that focus."

Dissident extremists continue to target members of the security forces in the North.

Last month, a booby trap bomb was left on the Tullygally Road in Craigavon, Co Armagh as police attended a call-out from a member of the public.

Commanders said it was a set up to lure officers into the area ahead of the murder bid.

In June, a serving PSNI officer had a lucky escape when he found an under-car booby trap bomb attached to the underside of his vehicle in a golf club car park in east Belfast.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew condemned those responsible for this morning’s incident.

“This morning’s bomb attack in Wattle Bridge was totally wrong,” said the Sinn Féin representative.

“Thankfully no one was injured in this incident but we could have been dealing with a situation where people were seriously injured or worse.

“Those responsible for this incident have nothing to offer society and need to end these actions immediately.

“Anyone with information on this should bring it forward to the PSNI.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he "strongly condemn the cowardly actions of those responsible for this bomb attack, which could have had devastating consequences.

"There is never any justification to use violence to achieve political aims. The people of Ireland, North and South, had their say on this issue when they voted overwhelmingly and emphatically for the Good Friday Agreement.

"It is a considerable relief that no PSNI officers were seriously injured or killed when this bomb went off. We should be in no doubt that this device was intended to inflict maximum harm.

"I encourage anyone who has information on this incident to provide it to the PSNI, so that those responsible can be brought to justice and future attacks prevented."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said on Twitter that condemned the attack in "strongest possible terms".

"Terrorism and bombing has no support, no place and no justification ever!"

Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Justice, also slammed the attack saying it was: "A despicable act perpetrated by persons with no regard for law, order or democratic principles."

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