Photographer targeted by pipe bomb (NewsLetter)

A press photographer was forced to flee his home with his family after a pipe bomb was left at his Co Down home in the early hours of Friday morning.

Mark Pearce from Mayobridge, said his family were woken by police shortly after midnight and told to move after the device was discovered at his front door.

Army bomb disposal officers dealt with the bomb which was declared viable.

Mr Pearce said he and his family were “terrified” but said he was determined to continue with his work.

“As photographers, we have this ability to distance ourselves from what happened,” he said.

“To a certain degree it does not seem real – but this is real. This is my family, this is my children. It is horrible.”

He said he had no proof of who may target him, but believed it may have happened because of photographs which he had taken. The cameraman added he had recently received a death threat.

Six homes in the street were also evacuated during the alert.

Ulster Unionist MLAs John McCallister and Danny Kennedy have condemned those responsible for planting the pipe bomb.

Mr McCallister said: “This was a cowardly attack against a family home and I condemn it unreservedly. I would commend the actions of the Police who ensured that the family and their neighbours were evacuated to safety.

“Their bravery is in contrast to the cowardly actions of those who planted this device in the full knowledge that innocent people, including children could have been killed.”

Mr Kennedy added: “I too am shocked at this incident. I know the Press Photographer who was the subject of this attack and it is an absolute disgrace that he and his family should be targeted in this way.

“This is an attack on Press Freedom and I would call on anyone who can assist the Police in apprehending whoever is responsible to come forward immediately.”

Sinn Fein MLA Caitriona Ruane said those who left a pipe bomb at the home of the photographer represented an affront to democracy. “In any civilised society a free press is paramount in maintaining democracy and this attack needs to seen in that context,” she said.

“While people may not agree with sections of the media there is no excuse to attack them or their families.”

SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said the perpetrators were intent on causing serious injury. “Disruption was caused to that family and to local residents who returned to their properties earlier this morning. The thoughts and prayers of the entire community are with the family,” she said. “The message is clear to those who perpetrate these despicable acts – get off our backs and let us live in peace and harmony.”

Alliance Party assembly member Trevor Lunn said freedom of the press is paramount in any democratic society: “There should never be any attempt to silence the press through the use of violence. I would like to extend my support to Mark and his family.”

Mr Pearce, 39, has a daughter aged 14 and a son aged 12. He said his family was concerned about what this evening could bring.


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