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Car bomb explodes outside court

A massive car bomb exploded outside a Northern Ireland court, police said, in an attack that one lawmaker blamed on dissident republicans.

world Updated: Mar 07, 2010 08:00 IST

A massive car bomb exploded outside a Northern Ireland court, police said, in an attack that one lawmaker blamed on dissident republicans.

There were no reports of casualties after Saturday's explosion, shortly after officers were alerted to a suspect vehicle outside the building in the city of Newry.

But the huge blast was heard two miles (three kilometres) away and is believed to have caused considerable damage. "Lives could have been lost," said one lawmaker.

The car was backed into the doors of the heavily fortified court before it exploded in the city around 35 miles south of the British province's capital Belfast.

Television pictures showed the wreck of the vehicle engulfed in flames and media reports said the court's gates were badly damaged.

"The police were still clearing the area at 10:30 pm when the bomb went off," a police spokesman said.

"There are no initial reports of injuries at this stage."

No group claimed responsibility for the attack but Danny Kennedy, a local lawmaker from the pro-British Ulster Unionist party, said dissident republicans had sent a warning about the device.

"A recognised code from dissidents accompanied a warning. It's likely there will be sizable damage," said Kennedy, who was at the scene, where a helicopter hovered overhead and police kept people at a distance.