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Third Derry security alert in a day, after van abandoned outside girls' school

This incident is one of three security alerts that police in Derry have been dealing with today.
Jan 21st 2019, 12:51 PM 43,040 56

Updated Jan 21st 2019, 10:00 PM

THE PSNI ARE responding to a third security incident in Derry city within a 12-hour period after an ASDA van was reported abandoned outside a girls’ secondary school.

At 8.20pm this evening, the PSNI tweeted out:

“Folks we are responding to a report of an abandoned vehicle on the Northland Road close to the Glenbank Road junction. Please avoid the area at the time.”

The abandoned vehicle is reported to be outside a school, St Mary’s College, which said on Twitter:

We will update all our school community later tonight when we have more details. Thinking of all those who are being evacuated from their homes.

The Glen Development Initiative has been opened as a rest centre for those who have been evacuated, according to the PSNI.

Earlier a controlled explosion was carried out on a vehicle hijacked in the Circular Road area of Derry city. 

The white Transit van was reportedly hijacked by masked men at around 11.30am, when the suspects threw an object in the back of the van before abandoning it.

The PSNI confirmed this evening that Army Technical Officers carried out the explosion and that a number of homes in the area remain evacuated with cordons still in place from earlier. 

This incident is one of two security alerts that police in Derry have been dealing with today after a second vehicle was highjacked this afternoon in the Southway area of the city.

At around 1.45pm the hijackers ordered the two people in the van to drive to Lonemoor Road and to leave it there. 

“Sadly, within two hours today, we are dealing with a second security alert in the City, which means even more disruption for the local community. 

“I know this second security alert and the measures we are taking to keep people safe will cause significant inconvenience for the local community, but we have no choice. I want to ask the public for their patience, and thank them for their co-operation while we work to make the scene safe,” Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said earlier today. 

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, tweeted to condemn the two security threats in the city.

“The gang currently putting lives at risk and undermining the image of this beautiful and vibrant city DO NOT CARE about our country or its people,” he tweeted. 

A community centre in Central Drive in the Creggan was made available to those who have been evacuated.

The incidents today follow the explosion of a car bomb from outside a courthouse on Bishop Street in the city on Saturday night.

Five men, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were arrested earlier in relation to that incident. The PSNI announced tonight that four men, aged 42, 34 and two men aged 21, have been released unconditionally.

The fifth man (50) arrested earlier today remains in police custody.

With reporting by Órla Ryan and Stephen McDermott 

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