Bomb blast hits bank in city centre

A BOMB exploded yesterday at a busy shopping area in Northern Ireland in the latest in a series of attacks by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.

The blast damaged a branch of the Santander bank in Shipquay Street, Londonderry, but the area had been evacuated following a warning and there were no injuries.

The explosion came the day after the Queen finished her four-day state visit to the Irish Republic, which was heavily policed amid tight security.

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Sinn Fein councillor Gerry MacLochlainn condemned those behind yesterday's attack. "Thankfully this was a small device and no injuries and no serious damage were caused, and the people who carried out the attack need to realise that they have been rejected by the republican community and should desist immediately," he said.

"The attack on a building society will not affect the global financial institutions nor the constitutional position of the North of Ireland but will seriously jeopardise jobs in the local economy.

"Not only are the jobs in the local branch now at risk but we will also have an effect on the tourism industry, with people feeling Derry is unsafe to travel to.

"The city centre will now be closed for the rest of the day on what is the busiest shopping day of the week, and the only people being disrupted by this attack are the citizens of this city."

Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly member Martina Anderson said the damage was confined to the inside of the Santander branch.