LONDON - Police officers in Northern Ireland came under attack on Friday night when an explosive device was thrown at their vehicle in Belfast, a police spokesman said.
No one was seriously injured in the incident, although four members of the public were treated for shock. A local lawmaker said shrapnel from the explosion hit a passing car.
The attack came just hours after a bomb was found nearby, having fallen off a vehicle and failed to explode. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it had not ruled out the possibility that it was aimed at one of its officers.
"Police in west Belfast have escaped serious injury tonight after an explosive device detonated close to their vehicle on the Falls Road," a PSNI spokesman said late Friday.
"The incident occurred shortly before 10.30pm (1030 GMT) close to the entrance of the City Cemetery. It is believed some form of explosive device was thrown at their vehicle."
Paul Maskey, a member of parliament for the Sinn Fein republican party, condemned the "reckless attack".
"A family was fortunate to escape injury as their car was peppered with shrapnel. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt but the family is extremely shook up," he said.
He added: "Those behind this attack clearly did not care who was injured or killed."
Northern Ireland endured three decades of civil unrest between Protestant unionists who wanted the province to stay part of Britain and republican Catholics who wanted it to join with the Republic of Ireland to the south.
The 1998 Good Friday peace accords largely ended the violence and paved the way for a devolved power-sharing government, although dissident republican groups opposed to peace are still active.
© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse