Police in Londonderry have condemned a bomb in the city as “unbelievably reckless”.
A bomb exploded inside a car at the courthouse on Saturday night.
A suspicious vehicle was spotted on Bishop Street by officers on patrol at about 19:55 GMT, police then received a warning five minutes later.
Officers were on the scene evacuating people from nearby buildings when the device detonated at 20:10 GMT. No one is believed to have been injured.
A cordon remains in place at the scene.
“We moved immediately to begin evacuating people from nearby buildings including hundreds of hotel guests, 150 people from the Masonic Hall and a large number of children from a church youth club,” said Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton.
“At this stage it appears as though the vehicle used had been hijacked from a delivery driver in the Quarry Street a short time before the explosion.
“This attack was unbelievably reckless. Thankfully the attackers failed to kill or injure any members of the local community out socialising and enjoying the best of what the city has to offer.”
Greg McLaughlin, who lives nearby, said his windows shook with the force of the blast.
“It was very, very loud. I knew right away this was a bomb,” he said.
“We knew it was quite close.
“You could see the ball of fire on the street. It sounded to me like a very significant blast. I haven’t heard anything like it in Derry for quite a while.”
Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said the explosion had caused major disruption in the Bishop Street area of the city.
“This has to be condemned in its strongest terms, taking place on a Saturday evening when many people are out enjoying themselves.
“The loss of trade for the local hospitality sector and the impact that this will have on tourism and the local economy benefits no one.”
The Northern Ireland secretary, Karen Bradley, said she was concerned at the reports coming from Londonderry and was “being kept informed by PSNI”.
Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion said the incident had “shocked the local community”.
“In particular, there are many elderly residents who live in the area who have been alarmed by this incident,” she said.
SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan tweeted: “Whoever is responsible for this explosion outside Bishop Street Courthouse in Derry clearly hasn’t got the message that the people of Derry DO NOT want this on our streets.”
The DUP MLA, Gary Middleton, described the incident as a “disgraceful act of terrorism”.
The Irish tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney condemned the attack.
“There is no place and no justification possible for such acts of terror, which seek to drag Northern Ireland back to violence and conflict,” he wrote on Twitter.
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