A senior officer has spoken of his horror after children gathered up parts of a bomb which exploded outside a police station.
The device was one of two thrown by dissident republicans at the base at Woodbourne on the Stewartstown Road in west Belfast.
One detonated, but the second failed to go off.
Minutes later a group of young children, some as young as nine, approached officers involved in a follow-up security operation and handed over the remains of the bomb which exploded late on Monday night. Nobody was hurt.
But the police area commander, Chief Superintendent George Clarke, said the children were lucky to escape a reckless attack which he said was aimed at killing or maiming his officers.
He said: "Those children may well have picked up the unexploded devices, which are extremely volatile, very, very dangerous, utterly lethal and could function at any time.
"Dissident republicans haven't moved forward and realised the way to advance any argument is political. No one has come forward to claim this (attack).
"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."
Democratic Unionist councillor Brian Kingston, who met families living close to the station, said: "This is a combination of childhood innocence and a terrorist attempt to maim and kill."