Car bomb explodes near army base in Ireland
A car bomb has exploded outside an army base in Northern Ireland that is the headquarters for MI5 domestic security services. The attack has been blamed on dissidents from the Irish Republican Army (IRA), although nobody has yet claimed responsibility.
According to police, IRA members hijacked a vehicle from a taxi driver in Belfast; Al Jazeera reports it was commandeered at gunpoint. A bomb was planted in the car, which was then driven to the rear of the Palace Barracks.
The explosion comes several hours before the Northern Ireland Assembly was scheduled to appoint its first justice minister, and only minutes after the Belfast power-sharing administration regained control over justice and policing in the province for the first time in nearly four decades.
An Ulster Unionist member of the Belfast Policing Board, Basil McCrea, commented on the explosion, saying: “It’s obviously people trying to make a statement about the transfer of policing and justice powers. We are going to have to expect more of this over the next period of time […] There will be people who will try to disrupt the process,” as quoted by the BBC.
He commented that he believed the incident was a “one-off” occurrence, and said he tried to reassure concerned locals in the area.
Police said IRA dissidents held a Belfast taxi driver at gunpoint in his home and used his vehicle to carry the bomb to the rear of Palace Barracks. Witnesses report hearing an explosion shortly after midnight local time; Al Jazeera puts the precise time of the detonation at 00.24 local time (23.24 UTC). One man was hospitalised following the bombing, although there are no reports of deaths.
According to a local journalist, security has cordoned off the area near the explosion.