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CCTV footage of Derry city centre car bomb released as two men (20s) arrested

The explosion occurred shortly after 8pm on Bishop Street in the city centre.

Forensic investigators at the scene of a car bomb blast on Bishop Street in Derry
Forensic investigators at the scene of a car bomb blast on Bishop Street in Derry
Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

Updated Jan 20th 2019, 4:22 PM

TWO ARRESTS HAVE been made in relation to a suspected car bomb which detonated outside a courthouse in Derry yesterday. 

The explosion occurred shortly after 8pm on Bishop Street in the city centre. 

At around 7.55pm last night officers on patrol in Bishop Street spotted a suspicious vehicle and made checks on it. Around five minutes later, information was received that a device had been left at the courthouse. 

The PSNI immediately began evacuating people from nearby buildings, including hundreds of hotel guests, 150 people from the Masonic Hall and a large number of children from a church youth club. 

The device detonated at 8.10pm. 

There are no reports of any injuries. 

PSNI assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton confirmed to reporters at a press conference this afternoon that two men in their 20s had been arrested in Derry city early this morning. They remain in custody. 

“We believe that sometime after 6pm last night in the Quarry Street area of Derry a pizza delivery driver was hijacked,” Hamilton told reports, adding that the driver had the car taken off him by at least two armed men. 

“Between then and 7.23pm, a bomb was put in that car here in the city in Derry, driven at least half a mile to outside the courthouse here in Bishop Street,” Hamilton said. 

About three minutes later a phone call went into Samaritans in Westmidlands in England, which was then passed to Westmidlands Police who contacted the PSNI, according to Hamilton. 

“In the intervening minutes we had already found the car and we were starting to evacuate the area,” he said. 

The PSNI has released footage of the moment the car exploded outside the courthouse. 

Fortunately, it didn’t kill anybody and fortunately it didn’t cause widespread damage but clearly, it was a very significant attempt to kill people here in this community last night. 

“Thankfully the local community and the police service acted bravely together and we got everybody away just in time, but the bomb detonated just as we were leaving the area,” Hamilton said.

A callous act, a deliberate act against the people of Derry and against the local police service. A deliberate attempt to harm the local community. 

Londonderry explosion PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont (centre left) and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton speak to the media near the scene of a car bomb blast on Bishop Street Source: Niall Carson via PA Images

‘Disgraceful act of terrorism’

Politicians have condemned the suspected bomb, with former deputy mayor of Derry and current DUP MLA Gary Middleton describing it as a “disgraceful act of terrorism”. 

SDLP MLA Mark Durkan said that whoever was responsible for the explosion “clearly hasn’t got the message that the people of Derry do not want this on our streets”. 

“We are trying to move Derry forward and will not let anyone drag us back to the dark days of the past,” he said. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the attack was an “appalling, reckless and cynical act of terror”. 

“Violence to achieve political objectives has been rejected by the people of this island again and again. The government condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” he said. 

“I also want to acknowledge the good work and prompt response of the PSNI who prevented further harm.” 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney condemned the attack saying that “there is no place and no justification possible for such acts of terror, which seek to drag Northern Ireland back to violence and conflict.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted that this “pointless act of terror must be condemned in the strongest terms”.

Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to contact PSNI on 101. Alternatively, people can contact UK Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

With reporting by Christine Bohan and Cónal Thomas 

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