An apparent attempt to set fire to the offices of the Alliance Party offices in east Belfast was the most serious of a number of unclaimed alerts and incidents in Derry, Belfast and Armagh this week.
The petrol-bomb attack on the office building at Upper Newtownards Road took place on Saturday night. Only one of the bombs ignited on the street, and it was quickly extinguished.
The party has been targeted repeatedly by loyalists in the wake of a Belfast city council decision last year to put the flying of the British Union Jack at the city hall in line with other civic buildings under British jurisdiction.
Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long, who has been subjected to death threats by loyalists, said the attempted firebomb attack on her party premises was an attack on democracy.
“This is not an attack on an individual party or office. It is an attack on democracy,” she said.
A spate of pipe-shaped devices also caused alerts and evacuations across the North.
A member of the public was reported to have picked up a device that was thrown at a PSNI patrol in Strabane, County Tyrone on Sunday. British army bomb-disposal experts officers later destroyed the object in a controlled explosion.
The British army were also called to Andersonstown in west Belfast shortly before 9am on Tuesday after a suspicious device was discovered. They carried out an evacuation before it was removed “for further inspection”. The PSNI said the object was another pipe device, but denied reports it had been thrown at one of their patrols
Also on Tuesday, residents at Wall Street in north Belfast were also forced from their homes at around 3am following an alert. It was later declared a hoax. An alert at Musgrave Park in south Belfast was found to be an old wartime-type shell.
And also on Tuesday, bomb-disposal experts were called to an alert and evacuation in Armagh, where they said a “viable explosive type device” had been made safe.
On Thursday, an elaborate incident saw a bus driver ordered to take an object to Strand Road PSNI base in Derry. An oblong device was later recovered, although the PSNI did not say if it was viable. The driver was hailed as a hero by the PSNI after she drove the bus away from a built-up area.
A number of security alerts also took place in Derry today [Friday] at the Gobnascale Road area of the city.
Following evacuations, British Army bomb disposal experts attended all of the alerts at around 1am. Each was declared to be “an elaborate hoax”. Another object was then spotted at a business premises on the Strabane Old Road, which also described as a hoax.