‘Deliberate attempt to lure officers to their death’

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Detectives from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch are making a renewed appeal for information regarding the attempted murder of an off duty police officer in the Londonderry on February 22.

A viable Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device (UVIED) was discovered at the home of the officer in the Ardanlee area.

Detective Superintendent John McVea said: “We are now able to link the device used in this attack with a previous incident in Ballyarnett Village on October 13, 2014 when unsubstantiated reports of a burglary and subsequent bomb warning calls led us to conclude at that time that the sequence of events was a deliberate attempt to lure police officers into the area to try and murder them.

“We believe the New IRA is responsible for both attacks. I can also confirm that the same type of pressure plate device was used on both occasions.

“These types of devices are designed to murder and seriously injure people. If this UVIED had exploded with our colleague and his young family in the car earlier this year it would have had devastating consequences. I am thankful this was not the case.

“However, I must emphasise that the violent dissident republicans who carried out this attack did indeed intend to kill him and didn’t care that his children or partner could also have been in the vehicle with him at the time.

“I am also relieved that this small group of people, who have nothing to offer the communities they profess to be a part of, were unsuccessful when they tried to lure police into Ballyarnett Village three years ago.

“It is plain to see that they have no regard for the safety of the local community or indeed the wishes of the vast majority of local people who want to live in a safe and peaceful society. They put everyone’s safety at risk as these viable devices were left in residential areas and could have exploded at any time.”

Detective Superintendent John McVea added: “I would like to make an appeal as we have new information about a light coloured car, understood to be a Toyota Avensis, which we believe was in the area of Ardanlee at 11.00pm on Tuesday 21st February 2017.

We have been unable to identify the driver or occupants and I would ask the owner of a car, in the CCTV image to come forward to police or indeed anyone who can provide information about it.

I would like to thank the public for their assistance in these two investigations to date but I believe there are still people in these communities who hold vital pieces of information that can assist us. In relation to the attempted murder of our colleague earlier this year, we would like to hear from anyone who saw any unusual vehicles or people acting suspiciously in the Ardanlee area between 5pm on Tuesday, February 21 and 7am on Wednesday 22.

“And we are extremely keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity or vehicles in the Ballyarnett area of Derry on Sunday 12 October 2014.”

Anyone with information should contact Detectives at the incident room on 02871379793 the Police general contact number 101 or alternatively you can Contact Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.