Northern Ireland news

Concern as police confirm 'hoax' device in west Belfast was viable explosive

The schene of the security alert on the Springfield Road on Thursday. Photo by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Marie Louise McConville

A suspicious object which sparked a security alert in west Belfast this week was a viable device, police said last night.

The device, which was initially declared a hoax, was discovered on the Springfield Road on Thursday and removed for further examination.

However, police said last night that the object has since been identified as a "viable improvised explosive device".

Officers returned to the Springfield Road area yesterday and said "further evidence relating to the initial investigation was recovered and has been removed for forensic examination".

Detective Inspector Paul Rowland said: "I would like to reassure the public that the items recovered today did not, at any stage, pose a risk to the public.

"There are people who will know information about those responsible for this device and I would appeal for them to come forward and speak to police."

However, Sinn Féin councillor Steven Corr said last night there was "concern and confusion" about the discovery.

"I got a phone call yesterday to say the road had been closed as a suspect device had been found," he said.

"I then received another call to say that it was a hoax and then today, I was again contacted by residents to say that police had sealed off land.

"Police said there was no danger but how can a viable device not be of harm to people?

"There is concern and confusion. We don't know what was going on, was it explosives or components left overnight.

"We will raise it to see what exactly happened. It was a very lightweight statement given the seriousness of a viable explosive device being left on one of the main thoroughfares through Belfast."

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