A group of children picked up an unexploded pipe bomb minutes after another device exploded nearby in Belfast, Northern Ireland, police said Tuesday.
The children, some as young as nine years old, handed the bomb to officers who were dealing with the first explosion at a nearby police station in the west of the city, ITV News and the Belfast Telegraph reported.
Nobody was injured by either of Monday night’s bombs, which came after 56 police officers and two civilians were injured in protests in the city on Saturday - the latest flare-up in violence stoked by tensions between Northern Ireland's Protestant and Catholic communities.
The two bombs were thrown at the rear of Woodbourne police station at around 10.30pm local time (5.30 p.m. ET) Monday, the Belfast Telegraph reported.
Chief Superintendent George Clarke, of the Northern Ireland Police Service, said unexploded devices are "extremely volatile, very, very dangerous, utterly lethal and could function at any time".
PSNI confirm that device lifted by children at Woodbourne WAS an unexploded pipe bomb. Terrorism does not discriminate. Absolutely dreadful— Brian Kingston (@BrianKingston) August 13, 2013
“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,” he told reporters, according to ITV News.
The incident, which was blamed on dissident Irish republicans opposed to the peace process, was described by a local Unionist lawmaker as “absolutely dreadful.”
A police spokeswoman told the BBC: "Police can confirm that an explosive device detonated. It is believed that the target was police officers and police are now treating it as attempted murder."