Derry Journal

North West On Fire Bomb Alert

Friday 28th January 2005

Retail businesses in the North West are on red alert amid police warnings of a renewed dissident republican fire bombing campaign.

The warning comes after the Linton and Robinson hardware and machinery outlet in Strabane was destroyed by an incendiary device last weekend.

Police have said that businesses in Derry, Strabane, Coleraine and Ballymena should review their security in a bid to thwart similar attacks.

Superintendent Tony Weston, Head of Rural Region's Operational Command Unit, also appealed to the shopping public to remain vigilant.

Supt. Weston condemned those behind the incendiary attack in Strabane and expressed concern that further attacks may also be planned.

"These devices put lives and property at risk and cause unnecessary disruption to all," he said.

"They damage the image of the town as a potential investment location, and their actions can easily result in job losses for local residents." "I would urge anyone with information about this fire to contact police on 02871 367 337 or alternatively, to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If the community work with the police it is the best chance we have of putting an end to these attacks," the local divisional commander added.

Damage estimated in excess of £1 million was caused in the arson attack which gutted the Strabane business in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Manager, Gareth Linton, said the family-run firm had temporarily redeployed staff at their main department store in Abercorn Square which is currently undergoing renovation. However, the destruction of the Dock Street outlet would sadly result in jobs being lost.

Mr. Linton said the firm had been trading for 50 years and having to break the news of the fire to his father, who helped found the business, had been heartbreaking. However, they intend to rebuild the premises.

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