Police in Northern Ireland say they evacuated about 100 homes during a Belfast search for an errant IRA mortar shell, but no device was found.

Officers gave the all clear Friday following an 18-hour search of the Glen Road area of Catholic west Belfast, a traditional IRA power base.

An IRA splinter group had claimed to a Belfast media outlet it fired the shell at a police patrol the previous Friday but the device failed to detonate. Police took the warning seriously for fear a citizen might stumble across the unexploded shell.

Scores of families were taken overnight to emergency accommodation during the fruitless search.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement that there was "no trace of any device or explosion."