Rush hour warning amid alert

A series of controlled explosions have been carried out at the scene of a security alert in north Belfast, which has led to the evacuation of around 100 homes and the ongoing closure of the Antrim Road.

Polizia | PSNI | PoliceThe security operation is expected to last until Wednesday lunchtime, as officers from the army bomb squad examine a suspicious object near Glandore Avenue.

It is not yet known whether the object, which was reported at around 3pm on Tuesday, is an unexploded device or a deliberate hoax designed to cause disruption.

Two controlled explosions were carried out on Tuesday evening. Further controlled explosions were expected to be carried out throughout the night.

Up to 100 homes and businesses have been evacuated, with some taking temporary shelter at Fortwilliam and McCrory Presbyterian Church.

The Antrim Road has been cordoned off in both directions from the Limestone Road and Fortwilliam Park, and it is thought that the closures will remain in place until Wednesday afternoon at the earliest.

Police said they will be working with the Regional Development Department to minimise traffic congestion during rush hour on Wednesday morning.

Additional resources are to be deployed to assist with tail-backs that may occur, but officers are advising motorists to use the M2, Shore Road or Crumlin Roads instead.

The process of clearing the scene is “vital but often slow”, said detectives who have appealed for people to be “patient”.

“We are aware of the delays and disruption which will occur on Wednesday morning,” police said.

“We know the public want us to investigate this matter, and the disruption caused to them by those responsible for the device or hoax object, in a thorough and professional manner.

“As soon we conclude our investigation and make sure that the area of Antrim Road affected is safe for people to walk and drive down then the road will reopen. We are moving as quickly as we can within the boundaries of the investigation.”

Justice Minister David Ford has condemned those behind the incident.

“Responsibility for the disruption rests solely with those who left this suspicious device or elaborate hoax, and their actions are to be condemned,” Mr Ford said.

“I would urge everyone to be patient and to give the police the necessary time and space to deal safely with the incident for however long it takes.”