POLICE in Strabane are confident they will apprehend those responsible for the Ballycolman bomb hoax at the weekend.
Late on Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday morning up to 40 families – many with children and young babies – had to be evacuated from their homes in the estate after a suspect device was thrown into a resident’s kitchen.
For some five hours locals were forced to seek shelter with friends and neighbours as much of the Ballycolman had to be sealed off, before Army Technical Officers eventually declared the elaborate device a hoax.
Issuing a warning to perpetrators, PSNI District Commander Andy Lemon said the severity of such an attack on the community should not be under-estimated.
He said a viable device exploding would have caused untold devastation and in the worst case scenario, could have resulted in a loss of life.
The local chief was also at pains to point out that hoax alerts and even making hoax telephone calls are treated as criminal offences.
“We have already carried out door-to-door investigations and this is something we are continuing to work on,” he added.
“I would appeal to anyone who knows anything about this attack to get in touch. This attack does not make sense, it was stupid and we want to get to the bottom of it.”
One community leader described the alert as “torture.”
Sinn Féin’s Brian McMahon who himself was on the scene early on Saturday questioned the mentality of those responsible.