Police officers investigating a pipe bomb attack in the Hilden area of Lisburn this morning say they are “following a number of lines of enquiry.”
The PSNI was responding to claims made by a local councillor and an MLA that the victim of the attack may have been targeted due to “a case of mistaken identity.”
Two pipe bomb type devices detonated outside a property in Mill Street at around 2.25am.
It’s understood a young woman and her child were inside the property at the time, but neither suffered physical injury.
A number of homes in the area had to be evacuated during the security alert.
Chief Inspector Jonathan Wilson said: “This was an indiscriminate and reckless attack and we are extremely lucky that we are not dealing with any fatalities. People should be able to feel safe within their own homes, but unfortunately there are those within our community who have total disregard for the sanctity of life. They do not have any place in our society, they are not representing anyone other than themselves.
“I totally condemn this wanton act of destruction, however any words of condemnation are of little comfort to those affected by this heinous act. Actions like this have an impact on the whole of the community.”
Local DUP Councillor Jonathan Craig, who was at the scene of the incident early this morning, believes the victim of the attack is unlikely to have been the intended target.
“There is total bewilderment as to why this young woman has been targeted and I just think it is a case of mistaken identity,” he said.
“This is a quiet residential area. This sort of activity is unheard of in the Hilden area and it’s not welcome. These people don’t represent this area, they’re not welcome in this area and we just hope and pray the police catch them, put them through the courts and put them where they belong.”
SDLP MLA Pat Catney, who lives not far from the scene of the incident, agreed that the young woman whose house was pipe bombed wasn’t the intended victim.
“There is no reason whatsoever that I can tell of why this young woman and her child would be attacked like this,” he said.
Describing it as “a disgraceful attack on a settled and peaceful community”, he continued: “Those behind this attack are cowards and criminals. They sneak in under the cover of darkness and plant bombs with the sole intention of maiming and murdering people in this quiet and settled community. It’s a disgrace.
“This is an area that I walk through almost every day. It’s just incredible to think that people here could come under attack in this way.
“A number of residents remain evacuated this morning in the Island Centre. I’ve visited them and they’re clearly shaken by what has happened here. I want to put on record my thanks to the council staff who’ve been so helpful.
“I would appeal to anyone with information about this attack to come forward to the police. This is so out of the ordinary for this community, if anyone saw or heard anything suspicious, please come forward. It’s the only way we’ll bring these thugs, who were set on murder and mayhem, to justice.”
Asked if the attack may have been a case of mistaken identity, a PSNI spokesperson said: “Police are following a number of lines of enquiry at this time.”
Condemning those behind the attack for showing “a blatant disregard for human life”, Lagan Valley UUP MLA Robbie Butler commented: “This is a quiet residential street with young families and there can be no justifiable reason in 2018 for people doing this sort of thing, attacking homes and endangering people’s lives.
“I know this area well because I grew up there. It has always been a quiet area, home to many young families and it was the height of recklessness to transport explosive devices such as these and detonate them here.
“Nothing can justify acts of violence. Nobody in Lisburn wants this type of activity and the people responsible must be caught and punished.”
UUP Councillor Nicholas Trimble also condemned the attack and praised council staff for their efforts in helping to evacuate residents during the security alert.
Alliance Alderman Stephen Martin added: “We are extremely lucky we are not facing a more severe situation this morning. I want to praise the quick and efficient effort of all involved, which not only saw a third device defused, but also the safe evacuation of those living close by.
“Everyone must have the right to live peacefully in their own home, without the threat of harm, and this type of behaviour is not acceptable in our borough.”
Investigating officers have appealed to anyone with information about the attack to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 86 27/02/18.
Alternatively, information can also be passed on anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.