‘Shocked’ local runners passed Omagh bomb car

THE Ballymoney-based press officer of the Springwell Running Club said members who competed in a half-marathon in Omagh on the day police constable Ronan Kerr was murdered in a car bomb attack, were shocked at how close the device had been placed to the race course, writes Nevin Farrell.

Kenny Bacon said 15 members of the Springwell Club aged from 30 to 58 took part in the Omagh race and part of the course went past where Constable Kerr’s vehicle was parked.

Up until last Thursday the exact distance between the route of the half-marathon - which attracted around 2000 entrants - and the booby-trapped car was unknown but then a photograph emerged in the media which showed runners passing close to the vehicle.

And spectators, including young children, also gathered nearby to watch the race.

The race event started around midday and most of the runners would have passed the scene of the explosion before 3pm. It is understood the bomb went off around 4pm as Constable Kerr got into the vehicle to travel to work in Enniskillen.

Security sources believe the bomb may have been placed under Constable Kerr’s vehicle during the hours of darkness and therefore is most likely to have been there when the majority of race-goers passed close by.

Kenny Bacon, who did not attend the Omagh race himself, told the Times: “One of our guys who took part in the race only realised that they had ran so close by the car when they saw that photograph and he was a bit shocked.

“A lot of the running community is shocked that this could have happened when whoever did it was probably aware that there was going to be a lot of people about and if it had gone off during the race who knows what would have happened?”

Mr Bacon said many people had hope such attacks are a thing of the past.

He said he believed his club members had left Omagh when the booby trap did explode and he said it will not put the club off from competing in other events across Northern Ireland.

Mr Bacon said the club would like to pass on their sympathy to Constable Kerr’s family.