Northern Ireland

Mob ransacks houses in Donegall Road area of Belfast

A number of houses in the Donegall Road area were attacked
Image caption A number of houses in the Donegall Road area were attacked

A mob ransacked houses in the Donegall Road area of Belfast in a series of racist and sectarian attacks on Monday.

The group of up to eight masked men forced their way into a house on Coolfin Street shortly before 2030 BST where they smashed furniture.

Minutes later they smashed up another house on the street and broke windows in a neighbouring house.

They then forced their way into a house on the Donegall Road where they assaulted a man.

The man suffered a small cut to his cheek.

A woman was also slapped in the first attack but she did not suffer any injuries.

Graffiti was also sprayed on house on Euterpe Street, though it was not sectarian or racist.

'Terrifying'

The police are treating one of the attacks as racially motivated and another as sectarian.

The victims were a Catholic woman and an eastern European man, thought to be Polish.

It is understood that some of those attacked had only recently moved into the area.

Paula Bradshaw, Director of Greater Village Regeneration Trust, said there had been trouble in the area since last week.

She said tensions had been raised when carloads of young men came into the area to attack bonfires and steal flags.

She said she was "sickened" by the attacks.

The area's SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell said the people targeted must have had "a terrifying ordeal."

"Sectarianism, racism and bigotry has no place in our society and I would urge anyone with information about these brutal attacks to pass it onto the police immediately so that the thugs responsible can be brought to justice."

The police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them at Musgrave Street on 0845 600 8000.