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Bombs explode in Northern Ireland city

By Peter Taggart, for CNN
updated 6:24 PM EST, Thu January 19, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two bombs rock locations in Londonderry
  • No injuries reported
  • Politicians blame IRA splinter groups

(CNN) -- Two bombs went off at separate locations in the Northern Ireland city of Londonderry, police said Thursday.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said people had been moved from both areas after telephone warnings and there were no reports of injuries.

One of the blasts was on Strand Road, near government offices and police headquarters. The other was near a tourist office at Foyle Street.

The police commander for the city, Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin, branded the attacks "reckless." He praised his officers for quickly evacuating businesses and homes, including many elderly residents.

"Thankfully we are not dealing with mass casualties or worse this evening," said Martin. "The people of Derry do not want this - it is cowardly and callous."

Londonderry, Northern Ireland's second largest city, has a Catholic majority and is known as Derry by many residents.

Local politicians are blaming Irish Republican Army splinter groups for planting the bombs. There have been several attacks by so-called "dissident republicans" in the city during recent years since the mainstream IRA declared a cease-fire. The IRA for decades fought against British authorities in Northern Ireland, but has since renounced violence.

The former Social Democratic and Labour Party mayor of the city, Irish nationalist Colum Eastwood, condemned Thursday's attacks. "This was an attack on the people of Derry by the enemies of Ireland. Those behind this are engaged in a futile and morally bankrupt campaign."

Leader of the pro-British Ulster Unionist Party, Tom Elliott, said, "I have no doubt the bombs are the work of so-called "dissident" republican terrorists.

"We have seen this type of attack before during the troubles when the IRA blitzed Londonderry on a regular basis," Elliott said. "Those attacks failed to break the will of the unionist people and these attacks will fail, too. These attacks further no cause."

Elliott called for a security crackdown by British authorities and urged anyone with information on the bombers to give it to police.

"This type of fascism was part of our past. It has no place in our future," he added.

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