Police investigating suspected car bomb in Northern Ireland; MPs say nobody hurt

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jan 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-19 20:42:44-05

(CNN) — Police in Northern Ireland said they were investigating a suspected car bombing late Saturday in Londonderry.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland urged residents via Twitter to stay away from the area. Authorities did not name any suspects or say if anybody was injured.

Sinn Fein MP Elisha McCallion said no one appears to have been hurt in the bomb attack, which occurred at the courthouse, according to a statement posted on McCallion’s party website.

“This incident has shocked the local community,” she said. “In particular, there are many elderly residents who live in the area who have been alarmed by this incident.”

Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney condemned the car bombing, tweeting, “There is no place and no justification possible for such acts of terror, which seek to drag Northern Ireland back to violence and conflict.”

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster posted on her official Twitter page, “This pointless act of terror must be condemned in the strongest terms. Only hurts the people of the City. Perpetrated by people with no regard for life.”

She thanked emergency services for their quick action “which helped ensure there have been no fatalities or injuries.”

For many years, Northern Ireland has been split over the question of whether it should remain part of the United Kingdom or become part of Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s history has been marked by sectarian violence; more than 3,500 people died in the decades-long conflict known as “the Troubles.” The Good Friday, or Belfast, Agreement of 1998 was a turning point for the region ending years of bloodletting.

In recent years the two main political parties — the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein — had been working together in a power-sharing executive, but it collapsed in 2017 and despite extensive talks has yet to be restored.

The name of the city is disputed, with nationalists, who are in favor of a united Ireland calling it Derry and unionists, who want to remain part of the United Kingdom, calling it Londonderry.

The city has a population of about 240,000 in its metro area. It’s about 112 kilometers (70 miles) west of Belfast.