Postal workers have intercepted a letter bomb addressed to a senior police officer in Northern Ireland.
The suspicious package, meant for Chief Inspector Andy Lemon, was discovered in a sorting office in Strabane, Co Tyrone.
Bomb disposal experts examined the package and said it was “a small viable device”, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.
The device was made up of a battery pack and accelerant and was packed into a brown envelope. It was taken away for further examination.
Six roads around the sorting office were closed for several hours this morning but all have since been reopened.
Chief Inspector Lemon said the vigilance of postal staff had saved lives.
“This was a very dangerous device and I would like to praise the Post Office staff for noticing it. One of them, or one of my officers, could have been injured had they opened it,” he said.
He added: “I do not believe this is a personal attack but more a general attack on the police.
“Because I am area commander, a lot of mail would come into the police station addressed to myself, but I do not open any of it. That is done by other members of staff.
“This was an attempt to kill or injure police.”
Chief Inspector Lemon said the PSNI was keeping an open mind about who was responsible but said dissident republicans were the most likely suspects.
Northern Ireland’s first minister Peter Robinson and his deputy Martin McGuinness condemned the attempted attack.
“There can be no justification for this calculated and callous behaviour,” they said in a joint statement.
“This was not just a planned attack on a police officer but also on the postal workers involved and society as a whole.”
They urged anyone with information to contact police.
Last month, an explosive device was found under the car of a police officer in east Belfast.