Leading article

Derry car bombers must be caught

Stephen Oreilly

THE DETONATION of an explosive device in a car parked outside the courthouse in Derry city centre on Saturday night was an incredibly reckless act by those responsible.

At time of going to press no organisation had admitted carrying out the attack but there has been speculation that it may have been the work of the group styling itself as the New IRA.

Throughout the history of the troubles we have seen numerous examples of such attacks claiming lives. Towns all over Ireland have been scarred by such attacks and have been left remembering the names of many victims whose lives were ended in the most shocking ways.

After some of those deadly explosions, such as Omagh, Enniskillen and Belfast's Bloody Friday, there were claims that all possible precautions had been taken to prevent injuries to 'innocent civilians'. That is simply not true. The most obvious precaution is not to detonate deadly explosive devices anywhere, much less in a location where many people walk or drive by on a regular basis.

The simple truth is that every time a bomb is planted it has the capability of injuring people or killing them. No amount of warnings or precautions will always prevent such an outcome.

CCTV footage released by the police shows the car being parked outside the courthouse, a figure emerging from it and running off and then a group of people walking past the car before the area was evacuated.

There are therefore reasons to be grateful that Saturday night's incident did not have more serious consequences. As it is, the driver of the car which was hijacked and used in the attack has been traumatised and his vehicle destroyed.

Local residents had to be evacuated from the area as well as occupants of a hotel, youngsters attending a youth club, people using a Masonic hall and the elderly occupants of a sheltered housing complex.

We can also be thankful the attack did not appear to have the same destructive effects on property as bombings carried out in city centres at the height of the troubles. However it would be wrong to assume that these people will not be capable of such attacks in the future.

It is important therefore that those responsible are stopped from carrying out any further outrages. The only way to do that is to help the PSNI in their efforts to apprehend those who planned and carried out this bombing and other paramilitary attacks.

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