DUBLIN — Irish Republican Army dissidents detonated a bomb in a hijacked taxi yesterday outside a police base in the Northern Ireland city of Londonderry, damaging buildings but wounding no one despite the attackers’ inaccurate warning, police said.
It was the fifth car bomb planted this year by IRA splinter groups trying to undermine Northern Ireland’s three-year-old government coalition of British Protestants and Irish Catholics. Dissidents also fired a homemade mortar shell at the same Londonderry police station in May but it failed to detonate.
None of those attacks since February — targeting police stations, a courthouse, and the British spy agency MI5 — has injured anyone seriously.
Londonderry’s police commander, Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin, said two masked men ordered a cabbie at gunpoint to drive into the city’s Bogside district, a traditional IRA power base, shortly before 3 a.m. There they loaded a bomb into the car’s trunk.
“They repeatedly pointed a gun at him and warned him, if he did not do as they instructed, he would be shot,’’ Martin said.
He said the cabbie parked his car outside Strand Road police station, the city’s police headquarters just north of the Bogside, and the gunmen ran away. The driver then warned police he’d been forced to park a bomb outside.
Martin said police almost simultaneously received a coded telephone warning from IRA dissidents warning that the bomb would detonate 45 minutes later.
However, he said, it exploded less than 23 minutes later while officers were still evacuating nearby night spots and rousing people from their beds in nearby apartments.