Northern Ireland news

Pipe bomb found in Loughguile security alert

Police close off Corkey Road in Loughgiel as army bomb disposal experts work at the scene of a security alert on Sunday afternoon
Paul Ainsworth

RESIDENTS in a Co Antrim village have endured a "frightening and very disruptive experience" after a small but viable pipe bomb was found during a security alert. 

Police closed the Corkey Road in Loughgiel yesterday morning as an alert focussed on a HGV lorry. 

Residents of up to 60 homes were told to remain indoors as the alert continued throughout the day.  

The alert led to morning Mass at St Patrick's Catholic Church at Corkey Road to be cancelled. 

Police said this morning that the security alert is continuing but "on a much reduced basis".

Inspector O'Brien said: "Shortly after 8.50am on Sunday, January 16, police received and responded to a report that a device had been left in the area.

“The object, which was located in the Tullyview area, has been declared as a small, viable pipe bomb type device and was made safe by ammunition technical officers. It has since been taken away for further forensic examinations.

“Cordons have now been greatly reduced and I am keen to reiterate our gratitude to local people, and all those inconvenienced, for their patience as we work to make the area safe. 

"This was a completely reckless act and those responsible have shown a blatant disregard for the lives of others. Their actions are reprehensible and are not supported by the local community. 

"It is thanks to the assistance of members of the public and the attending services that no injuries were sustained or damage caused as a result of this.

"At this stage, we believe that the device may have been left sometime between the evening of Saturday, January 15 into the morning of Sunday, January 16.

Secretary of Loughgiel Shamrocks GAC, Darach O'Mullan, said members of the senior hurling team were told to leave their pitch at nearby Lough Road on Sunday morning.

"GAA is a big part of the community here, and it's depressing to see people unable to access their local pitch on a Sunday as a result of this," he told The Irish News last night.

"The affected part of Loughgiel is usually very busy on a Sunday, with the nearby pitch, and the local church, corner shop and pub all close together. It was quite scary to see the place closed off, and I know there are a lot of older people confined to their homes who have been very worried all day. This sort of disruption is not welcome in this community."

North Antrim MLAs condemned those behind the alert, including Sinn Féin's Philip McGuigan.

"Roads in and out of Loughgiel have been closed all day," he said, adding: "Lots of residents would have walked passed the lorry prior to the suspect device being discovered.

"It has been a frightening and very disruptive experience for residents and not something expected or welcome in Loughgiel."

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said the incident was a "reckless and needless action".

SDLP councillor Margaret Anne McKillop said: "This has obviously caused significant disruption for local people who just want to get on with their lives. The last thing anyone wants is the disruption that these alerts cause."

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