A five-year-old Wicklow boy could lose as many as seven fingers after he picked up a pipe bomb outside the front door of his house.

Doctors fear the youngster has also suffered severe burn injuries to his body and face.

The medics believe a bicycle helmet may have saved his life after the pipe bomb exploded when he picked it up outside his County Wicklow home in Newtownmountkennedy.

Police investigating the case have confirmed that he has lost four fingers on one hand and may lose three on the other.

The little boy was putting on his bicycle helmet and preparing to cycle to school when he saw the pipe bomb outside the family home.

Officers investigating the case are baffled by it as the boy’s family are not known to them.

The Irish Times reports that the pipe bomb was fitted with a motion-based ignition mechanism that caused the explosive material in it to explode within seconds of it being moved when the boy picked it up.

The child was preparing his bicycle for a ‘cycle to school’ day as part of Ireland’s National Bike Week when he saw the device.

The explosion badly damaged both his hands and he was rushed by ambulance to the National Children’s Hospital in Dublin where he underwent surgery.

Reports say the boy lives in the house with his mother, a younger brother and teenage sister but his father does not live at the property.

Police believe the pipe bomb was left either on or beside the doorstep of the house sometime late on Tuesday night or in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Detectives fear the pipe bomb may have been left outside the wrong house.

An incident last year in which another pipe bomb was found outside a house in the area is also being re-examined.

The scene in scyamore drive Newtown mount Kennedy, Co wicklow, where a 5year old has been injured by an explosive device.Garry O'Neill c/o The Irish Times