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Wednesday 22 March 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# Strabane
PSNI investigating 'attempted murder' of two officers after bomb attack in Strabane
Last night at 11pm two constables on patrol were attacked in the Mount Carmel Heights area of County Tyrone.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 18th 2022, 7:47 PM

POLICE IN NORTHERN Ireland are investigating a bomb attack on two police officers in Strabane – investigators are calling the attack an attempted murder. 

Last night at 11pm two constables on patrol were attacked in the Mount Carmel Heights area of County Tyrone. 

A spokesperson has said the scene has been sealed off as detectives investigate the attack. 

“The Police Service can confirm that the ongoing security alert in the Mount Carmel Heights area of Strabane this morning follows what appears to have been a targeted attack on police shortly before 11pm last night.

“Investigations are at an early stage however the attack, which is believed to have been caused by an improvised explosive device, caused damage to a police vehicle and is being treated as the attempted murder of two officers.

“The road remains closed and motorists are advised to avoid the area. No homes have been evacuated at this time. A further update will be provided in due course,” a spokesperson said. 

Chief Constable Simon Byrne and Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton visited Strabane to show support for local officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Singleton said: “Our thoughts are first and foremost with the two police officers who were here last night serving their community.

“Fortunately they are left simply shaken by what happened last night, but we are treating this incident as a credible attempt to murder those officers. This is an attempted murder investigation.

“While our investigation is at an early stage, a strong line of enquiry is that this attack this was carried out by the New IRA.”

“We have somewhere in the region of 1,000 residents who have been affected by that security alert. We take this opportunity to thank them for their patience,” he said. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that any attempt to injure or murder any PSNI officers stands to be condemned, calling it “absolutely shocking”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar condemned the attack this evening.

“I just really want to condemn what’s happened in Strabane, express my solidarity with the PSNI.

“I think what it shows us, 100 years since the foundation of the State, 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement, there are still people on this island that don’t accept democracy.

They want to pursue political objectives through violence and we reject that. People north and south reject that.

“We’ll be working very closely with the Northern Ireland authorities to find out who planted this bomb and bring them to justice.”

Local SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan also condemned the attack.

He said up to 600 homes and more than 1000 people have been affected by the subsequent security alert which has seen one of the community’s largest residential areas cordoned off with motorists asked to avoid the area.

“The bomb attack on two police officers as they served the community in Strabane last night was a depraved act committed by people determined to bring murder and mayhem to our town.

“This is a very serious situation – two police officers and anyone else nearby could have been killed last night. Those responsible are a danger to this community and are acting against the wishes of people here who want to get on with their lives in peace.

“People here are shocked and shaken this morning. They’re worried that anyone could have been killed or injured by this,” he said. 

McCrossan called on the public to provide information to investigators. 

“My immediate thoughts are with the officers who must be incredibly shaken by this ordeal. Their service to people in Strabane is valued and they deserve our full support.

“The people responsible for this sinister attack don’t care who gets killed or caught up in this mayhem, we need to get them off our streets. I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward to police as soon as possible.

“Meanwhile, more than 1000 people living in Mount Carmel Heights are experiencing immense disruption as police investigate the incident. I would urge people to co-operate with police so that we can secure the area and have the cordon lifted as soon as possible,” he added. 

Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein First Minister designate, condemned the bomb attack and said that those who want to drag society backwards will not succeed.

 “The bomb attack in Strabane was reckless and reprehensible, and I strongly condemn it.

“This was a disgraceful attempt to kill or injure police officers in a residential area and it could have also had a devastating impact on the wider community.

“I have spoken to the Chief Constable and am relieved that fortunately no one has been seriously injured or killed in the attack.

“My thoughts are with the two officers, and everyone caught up in this incident, including over 1000 residents whose lives were disrupted this morning and many others prevented from getting to work or school,” she said. 

O’Neill added that those responsible for the attack have “absolutely no regard for the local community or the people who live in it”. 

“There is no place for those whose primary focus is on dragging society backwards. They will not succeed and must not be allowed to fill the political vacuum.

“We must all unite against these reckless actions, and we must keep building the peace and moving forward together to build a new and better future for all.

“I would urge everyone to cooperate with the ongoing police investigation,” she added.