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Bomb attack on traffic spy van

A SPEED camera van has been destroyed in a suspected petrol bomb attack.

These pictures show the vehicle ablaze minutes after the fire was reported.

The van was set on fire last night -- with the van's operator still inside the vehicle -- on the old N11 on the Wicklow/Wexford border. The operator managed to get out in time. A number of people were seen leaving the scene just seconds before the Gatso van burst into flames. Sources say that the fire may have been started by a petrol bomb attack. A garda spokesman confirmed the van had been "extensively damaged by fire believed to be started deliberately".

It is understood that the vehicle is worth up to €70,000, including the camera inside.

Witnesses in the area reported seeing the flames from up to two miles away.

"Gardai would like to hear from anyone who may have seen anything unusual or suspicious in and around a Citroen Relay van registration 11 KK 491 between 7pm and 7.30pm," said the spokesman.

Two fire units from Arklow attended the suspected arson attack, as well as gardai from Arklow and Gorey.

A similar incident occurred in November when a speed survey van, part of the new fleet of mobile vehicles, was attacked and burnt out at Carrickmacross to Dundalk road in Co Louth,

Motorists in the county have recently reported seeing an increased number of the controversial vehicles in the area.

This is understood to be the second successful attack on one of the vans, however, there have been a number of reported near misses. Last year, a garda had a narrow escape when the vehicle in which he was monitoring traffic was attacked in Blarney, Co Cork.

Attacks have also taken place on fixed speed cameras on the N4 outside Kells, and the M1 motorway north of Dublin. There are up to 45 Gatso vans shared between some 600 locations nationwide.

The new speeding devices have been welcomed by motoring groups, including the Automobile Association, who say the cameras encourage motorists to slow down on roads where fatal crashes have occurred.

hnews@herald.ie