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Police attack grenade 'stolen from Irish Army'

Police attend the scene after a grenade was thrown at officers in the Short Strand area

A GRENADE used in a failed bid by dissident republicans to kill police officers may have come from an Irish Army batch.

Reports yesterday suggested the device had been stolen from military authorities south of the border.

The grenade was thrown from an alleyway in the Short Strand area of east Belfast on Friday night - landing at the feet of three officers.

The bomb failed to detonate.

The PSNI said it was treating the attack as attempted murder.

It was reported yesterday that the grenade may have come from a batch stolen from the Irish Army in Donegal five years ago.

The devices were believed to have been taken by Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD).

It is believed the grenades were then passed to the Continuity IRA and onward to ONH which it is speculated was involved in Friday's attack.

The incident came a day after an under-car booby trap bomb bomb failed when it fell from a vehicle in the Linden Gardens area of north Belfast.

The 'IRA' said it was behind that attack which it same was aimed at killing a soldier based at Palace Barracks in Co Down.

The bomb was found in the street where it had been kicked along the road by a child.

On Friday, police officers responded to reports from residents of anti-social behaviour when the grenade was thrown at around 10.15pm in the vicinity of Pottingers Quay in the Short Strand.

PSNI temporary superintendent Bobby Singleton said he believed the reports were genuine and not an attempt to lure officers into danger.

"The device was thrown and landed very close to the officers, basically at their feet," he said.

"Those who carried out this attack showed a total disregard for the safety of the local community and worryingly, for the second time in as many days, young people were in the vicinity at the time of the attack."

He said the "reckless and senseless" attack was being treated as attempted murder and said the assumption was dissidents were to blame.

He said it was only "by sheer good fortune that we do not have a fatality on our hands as this attack occurred in a built-up residential area".

"Police officers join to serve our communities and work tirelessly to keep them safe," he added.

"In contrast to the irresponsible actions of those behind the attack, the officers targeted insisted on remaining at the scene to assist in keeping local residents and their colleagues safe."

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton branded the attack an "act of madness".

He tweeted: "Device thrown at local police in Short Strand last night was an act of madness that could have killed or injured police or local residents."

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