Bomb blast in Belfast - prison officer rushed to hospital

NewsBy Jamie McDowell
Bomb blast in Belfast - prison officer rushed to hospital

A prison officer, 52, has been taken to hospital in Belfast after a booby-trap bomb in his car detonated.

The attack happened at around 7.10am this morning on Hillsborough Drive in East Belfast.

The Woodstock Road has been closed between Omeath Street and Ravenhill Avenue.

The officer is in a stable condition in hospital and is being treated for his injuries.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Superintendent Darrin Jones said: "We believe a device has exploded under a vehicle. The incident was reported to police at 7.10am this morning Friday March 4. One man has been taken to hospital."



A number of homes on Hillsborough Drive have been evacuated and an emergency evacuation centre has been set up at a nearby Salvation Army premises. 

One man, who was walking his daughter to school, said he heard the bomb explode, but he thought it may have been a skip falling over, and the thought that it was o bomb had "never entered his mind".

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster condemned the incident, saying it was a "Disgraceful and despicable attack in east Belfast."

Gerry Kelly, of Sinn Fein, said: "There can be no place for such attacks in our society. I hope that the man injured in this incident makes a full and speedy recovery.

"Those behind attacks like this represent no one and have nothing to offer the community."

Finlay Spratt from the Prison Officers Association said: "There is no let-up for prison officers, we can't live a normal life, we're not allowed to live a normal life by these thugs.

"It doesn't matter how often you condemn it, it just seems to go on and on and they're attacking people who are serving the community - all the community."

One person, who was in the area at the time, told the Stephen Nolan show: "I heard the explosion and ran outside.

"There were a lot of people looking really confused.

"The van was abandoned in the middle of the street and there were a lot of people tending to somebody injured on the pavement."

Reports suggest a speed bump may have dislodged the bomb from the underside of the prison officer's car as he drove over it, causing it to explode.

It is strongly believed dissident republicans are behind the attack.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt tweeted: 

The TUV's Jim Allister tweeted:


Another prison officer, David Black, was shot dead by dissidents on the M1 motorway as he made his way to work at HMP Maghaberry.

The 52-year-old father of two was the first prison officer to be murdered in Northern Ireland in almost two decades.



More to follow