Skip to main content

Car bomb hits N. Ireland military base

Debris lies in the street after a car bomb exploded outside the front gate of Palace Barracks on April 12.
Debris lies in the street after a car bomb exploded outside the front gate of Palace Barracks on April 12.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bomb goes off in Belfast neighborhood
  • No immediate claim of responsibility
  • Other recent attacks blamed on dissident Irish republicans
  • Occured just 30 minutes after police powers transferred from London to Belfast

(CNN) -- A car bomb exploded outside a British army base in Northern Ireland early Monday, injuring one person.

The blast went off about 12:30 a.m. (7:30 p.m. Sunday ET) outside the Palace Barracks in the Belfast neighborhood of Holywood where Britain's MI5 intelligence service has its regional headquarters.

The incident occurred just 30 minutes after police powers were transferred from London to Belfast.

According to a statement from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the bomb was placed in a stolen taxi which had been hijacked late Sunday in North Belfast.

The taxi driver was held by three males for almost two hours before being told to drive his silver Skoda to the base. Police added that security staff at the facility were made aware of the abandoned vehicle just before midnight and commenced evacuation procedures.

One elderly male, who was walking past the barracks at the time of the explosion, sustained minor injuries after the bomb detonated.

"The people responsible for this cowardly attack refuse to accept that Northern Ireland is moving on.
--Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw
RELATED TOPICS

There was no immediate report of a claim of responsibility for the blast, though the BBC reported that the Real IRA, a republican splinter group, admitted being behind the attack.

"Clearly the people responsible for this showed absolutely no regard for human life," said local police commander, Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw.

"There is no question in my mind, this was designed for one thing and one thing only -- to kill or cause serious injury to people and that's exactly what it would have done were it not for the actions of my officers and military colleagues in the Barracks and the community themselves working together.

"Thankfully we were able to evacuate people from the immediate area of the explosion.

"The people responsible for this cowardly attack refuse to accept that Northern Ireland is moving on and that peace is working here. They are callous criminals who simply want to drag everyone back to the past to suit their misguided objectives."

Recent attacks in Northern Ireland have been blamed on dissident Irish republicans who reject the 1998 Good Friday accords, which sharply reduced violence in the British-ruled province.

Northern Ireland was wracked for decades by violence between pro-British unionists and republicans who wanted Northern Ireland to join the rest of Ireland.

About 3,000 people died in the "Troubles," as the violence was known, before the tenuous peace agreement was hammered out.

There has been sporadic violence since then. A booby-trapped car exploded on January 8, severely injuring Constable Peadar Heffron. A car bomb partly exploded outside the headquarters of the Policing Board of Northern Ireland on November 21, and another under-car booby trap exploded on October 22 in east Belfast, injuring a woman, the PSNI said.