An incendiary bomb partially exploded in a store in Belfast on Tuesday, but caused no injuries and only minimal damage, police in Northern Ireland said.
The device went off in a retail outlet in the city's center during the early hours of the morning, Chief Inspector Trevor ONeill said in a statement.
"This is one of the busiest stores in one of the busiest streets in Belfast, and it does not bear thinking about what might have happened if the device had detonated fully and when the store was full of shoppers," ONeill said.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it was too early to say who was behind the attack, but hiding firebombs in stores is a favorite tactic of Irish Republican Army dissidents. The homemade incendiaries are typically tucked inside garments, furnishings or other flammable goods and timed to go off in the middle of the night, burning the premises without causing injuries.
The Irish Republican Army spent decades trying to tear Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom. The IRA renounced violence in 2005, but breakaway groups still mount attacks.