Northern Ireland police say a former officer saved himself and his daughter by spotting a booby-trapped bomb hidden underneath his car.

The leaders of Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant unity government condemned Friday's discovery of the bomb attached to the man's car outside his Belfast home.

No group claimed responsibility. Police blamed Irish Republican Army militants who use such car bombs to try to kill current and former officers.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott said the former officer demonstrated professionalism by checking underneath his car for a device. All Northern Ireland officers are taught to observe the precaution but sometimes do not. The man was not identified by name.

Baggott said the man, who quit the force several years ago, was about to drive his 12-year-old daughter to school.