LONDON - A bomb has exploded inside a car outside the courthouse in Londonderry. The explosion occurred in Bishop Street at about 20:15 GMT on Saturday, shortly after police received a warning.

Officers were on the scene when the blast occurred. No one is believed to have been injured. Police had just started evacuating nearby buildings, including a hotel, when the explosion took place. A cordon remains in place at the scene. Local politicians have told the BBC that the vehicle was hijacked in Derry some time before the explosion.

An eyewitness told the BBC: “The remains of the car could still be seen burning in the middle of the road. “A cordon has been set up around the scene and police are evacuating more buildings on Bishop Street.”

In a statement issued on Facebook, the PSNI said: “As far as we know no one [is] injured.” However, they said that there is another car they “are not happy about” and are evacuating the area and advising residents in the area to make preparations to leave. Greg McLaughlin, who lives nearby, said his windows shook with the force of the blast.

“It was very, very loud. I knew right away this was a bomb,” he said. “We knew it was quite close. “You could see the ball of fire on the street. It sounded to me like a very significant blast. I haven’t heard anything like it in Derry for quite a while.  Businesses and other properties have been evacuated and the cordon on Bishop Street has been extended.

One business owner said she heard a bang and was lucky to be inside at the time. She said she could have been on the street minutes later. Bishop Street is within Derry’s famous city walls.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said the explosion had caused major disruption in the Bishop Street area of the city.

“This has to be condemned in its strongest terms, taking place on a Saturday evening when many people are out enjoying themselves.