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Shadowy loyalist group may be behind firebomb attack

Two incendiary devices were found underneath two vehicles outside a house in Larchwood Court, Banbridge. Picture by Mal McCann

A FRINGE loyalist group may have been responsible for a firebomb attack that destroyed a car in a residential area of Co Down.

The device exploded underneath a vehicle in the driveway of a house in the Larchwood Court area of Banbridge early on Friday.

A second firebomb placed at the same property under another car did not ignite.

Police believe a bottle filled with flammable liquid and wrapped in fire-lighter was used.

Neighbours helped prevent the blaze spreading from the car to a nearby house by using a garden hose.

The young family who were at home at the time escaped unhurt.

The front of the car was badly burned in the blaze.

It is understood children were in the house when the car was set alight shortly before 3am yesterday.

In the early hours of Tuesday, another vehicle had been set alight in the same area.

Police are investigating a possible link.

Members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force are known to have been active in the area in recent weeks and had issued threats to individuals.

A British government-ordered report on paramilitary activity last week described the LVF as a small criminal gang that existed in Antrim and mid Ulster.

PSNI Sergeant Billy Stewart said yesterday: "The actions of the family and indeed the residents have averted what could have been a disaster - as simple and as stark as that.

"It is very terrifying for the family and indeed the neighbours. This is a very quiet residential area of Banbridge and it is not something we are used to here so everybody concerned is very traumatised in relation to the incident.

"It could be considered as lethal, yes."

Ulster Unionist assembly member Joanne Dobson said such attacks must stop before someone is killed.

"Because of the callous disregard for life shown by those responsible, there could have been a very different scene in Banbridge this morning."

SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly also said it was unacceptable behaviour.

"Their actions have no place in our society," she said.

DUP MLA Sydney Anderson said: "By their very nature these devices are crude and indiscriminate. Those responsible for placing them obviously have no regard for the safety of anyone within the area".

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