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Police station mortar bid thwarted
Police have foiled a suspected mortar attack close to a police station in Co Londonderry.
A viable mortar-type device was discovered during a security alert in the Lawrence Hill area near Strand Road police station in Londonderry.
The discovery was made as Prime Minister David Cameron flew into Northern Ireland for a major investment conference.
Police Service of Northern Ireland Superintendent Stephen Cargin said the perpetrators showed a complete disregard for innocent lives.
He said: "It is only by good fortune that we are not talking about loss of life or serious damage to property.
"While the device will be forensically examined in due course, it is safe to say that the intent here was to kill or injure and create fear within the community."
Up to 1,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes as Army bomb experts worked through the night to make the device safe.
The find also follows two murders in Belfast and Derry which have been blamed on dissident republican extremists opposed to the peace process.
Londonderry is the UK's City of Culture and, although it is a stronghold for dissident republicans, it has been largely free of terrorism incidents in recent months.
In March police thwarted another attempted mortar attack on Strand Road PSNI station when they stopped a van with four mortar tubes primed and ready to be fired through a hole in the vehicle's roof.
Cordons close to the police station remain in place, however.
In a statement, the PSNI said residents who were evacuated during the latest alert had since been allowed to return home.
A spokesman said: "The police cordons have been reduced in the area and the only road currently affected is Lawrence Hill.
"All other residents have been allowed to return to their homes."
The city's mayor, Martin Reilly, said the small minority who continued with acts of violence and destruction did not speak for the vast majority of people in Derry who were committed to peace and a positive future.
He added: "This latest attack, which put over a thousand people out of their homes in the middle of the night, had the potential to kill or injure. Such acts will not be tolerated as we work for a new future for the city and region.
"These acts of violence continue to frustrate those of us committed to work for peace and reconciliation but it will not stop us from continuing with that good work."