By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
A petrol bomb has been thrown at a police officer at the scene of a house fire in Derry.
The PSNI said detectives are treating the incident on Sunday in the Creggan area of the city as attempted murder.
The officer was with colleagues who responded to the fire in St Cecilia’s Walk, which had been reported shortly before 11am.
The PSNI said officers were at the scene when a number of young people gathered and threw stones at them.
As police remained to secure the scene throughout the afternoon, a petrol bomb, which had been lit, was thrown directly at an officer.
Superintendent Clive Beatty said: “Our colleague was one of several of our officers who had responded to the fire, and was working to keep people safe when he was targeted in such a senseless manner.
“Thankfully, he acted quickly and prevented serious injury by deflecting the petrol bomb away from his body.
“He sustained an injury to his hand in doing so, however he was able to remain on duty and continue to serve our community.
“What happened is unacceptable. No one should go to work and be placed in such a dangerous situation.
“Were it not for his quick reaction, the consequences could have resulted in serious injury, or worse.”
Detectives are investigating both the fire at the property, which has been ruled as deliberate, and the subsequent disorder and attack on the officer.
Detective Inspector Gareth Lavery said: “We are treating this horrific attack on our colleague as attempted murder, and I have a number of appeals to make as part of our investigation into the incident, the fire and subsequent disorder.
“In relation to the house fire, this was reported to us at around 10.45am yesterday.
“The property was vacant at the time and, thanks to the work of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, the blaze was prevented from spreading to neighbouring properties.
“There were no reports of any injuries.
“This incident is being investigated as arson. If you were in the area at around this time, and you have information in relation to what happened, tell us.
“If you were in the area yesterday and captured or witnessed what happened in St Cecilia’s Walk and the attempted murder of our officer, contact us.”