THE UNITED STATES has condemned a giant car bomb which partially exploded outside the biggest shopping centre in Belfast city on Sunday night.
The US State Department made the unexpected intervention following recent violence in Northern Ireland, where there has been a significant increase in security alerts.
“The United States condemns the cowardly acts of violence in Northern Ireland and reiterates its continued support for those who are working to build a strong society, a vibrant economy, and an enduring peace,” said US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.
The 59kg homemade bomb had the potential to do massive damage.
A group of masked men hijacked a man’s car on Sunday evening, forcing him to take the explosive device into the city centre. He abandoned the car at Victoria Square and alerted the police. It is believed that the detonator went off as police were preparing to examine the car, but it failed to trigger the bomb.
The PSNI has said it will be bringing in a dedicated policing operation in the run-up to Christmas and urged the public to report any suspicious behaviour to police.
“The vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland are committed to the peace process and to living in a society free of the violence and hatred of the past,” said Psaki.
“Over the past fifteen years, the people and institutions of Northern Ireland have made great progress toward peace, stability and prosperity,” she said.
“Those intent on violence will not deny Northen Ireland the opportunity to fulfill these goals.”