Two explosive devices were thrown at the Woodbourne police station in Belfast on Monday evening. One of the pipe bombs was picked up by a group of young children outside the station located between the republican Andersontown and loyalist Suffolk estate.

No one was injured in the attack, thought to have been carried out by the republican factions. One of the bombs exploded at 10.30pm on Monday (August 12).

Chief Superintendent George Clarke told the Guardian that the devices were “extremely volatile, very, very dangerous, utterly lethal and could function at any time."

"Dissident republicans haven't moved forward and realised the way to advance any argument is political. No one has come forward to claim this [attack].

"I cannot see the logic of throwing bombs at the back of a police station and then leaving an unexploded one for children to pick up."

Brian Kingston, a Democratic Unionist councillor, said a witness had seen the children. He said, “A group aged around 9, 10, 11, mixed boys and girls, came round the side of the police station carrying an object. They placed an object on the ground and they scarpered.

"What had happened was that the children had found a second device at the rear of the police station and had decided to carry this round the side of the station."

He added, “This is a combination of childhood innocence and a terrorist attempt to maim and kill.

"The thought of what could have happened to those children if that device had exploded – they could have been ripped apart- it doesn't bear thinking about."

There had been a lull in dissident republican activity since before the G8 Summit, in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, in June.

The Woodbourne, Belfast, police station where the bomb attack took placeBBC