Questions are being asked of security officials at Belfast International Airport, after an improvised bomb was found in a car at the Aldergrove hub. The device, which consisted of a pipe bomb lashed to cans of “flammable liquid,” may have been sitting undiscovered in the airport’s long-stay car park for “almost a year,” according to the BBC News website.
Officials found the explosive when an attempt was made to remove the vehicle from the car park. The long-stay facility was closed to traffic between 14.30 on Saturday, to 02.00 on Sunday morning, while army bomb experts removed the device. The airport remained operational throughout the crisis, but inbound passengers who had parked in the long-stay area were forced to stay at a nearby hotel.
The bomb’s timer, which had been set to detonate the device shortly after the car was abandoned, had failed a long time ago. Pipe bombs are, as their name suggests, ordinary pipes filled with explosive substances. The device has transcended centuries, and was very popular with combatants during the Belfast Troubles, despite being extremely volatile.
In the early 2000s, for example, at least two members of the paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association, were killed when the pipe bombs they were trying to use against a Catholic region of Belfast exploded in their hands.
Police believe that militants may be responsible for the bomb found at Belfast International, citing ‘dissident republicans’ as possible culprits. Sinn Fein member, Mitchel McLaughlin, said that the implications of having a bomb in a public place for almost a year were “almost too horrible to imagine.” Q Park, the owner of the parking space, was “confident” that the explosive’s extended stay was an exaggeration, however.