Northern Ireland

East Belfast: Girl attacked near sectarian flashpoint

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Media captionShannon Thompson said she was struck in the face with a piece of wood

A 15-year-old girl has been treated in hospital after being attacked by a youth near a sectarian flashpoint in east Belfast on Tuesday.

Police said she was hit in the face with a wooden object as she walked with a friend on the Ballymacarrett Road.

The girl, Shannon Thompson, was taken to hospital to be treated for cuts and bruising to her face.

Her attacker was aged 16 or 17, had 5'7", had brown hair and wore a white, red and blue tracksuit.

Shannon Thompson said she and some friends were taking a walk when she heard them screaming and some boys "came out of nowhere".

The teenager said she was then hit with a piece of wood.

"It happened so fast that I actually just blanked out and didn't even know what happened," she said.

'Revenge'

"I screamed because I saw the blood coming everywhere."

Shannon said a friend then brought her to her home to be cleaned up.

Her mother, Roseanne Thompson, said she was in a shop when she got a phone call telling her to come home quickly.

"I found her sitting outside my garden. I just cracked up and just wanted revenge, seriously, because I was so angry," she said.

"For the past couple of weeks here, we have constantly been getting attacked in the street, and then this here happens."

Ms Thomson said she believed the attackers were from the nearby Short Strand area.

"I am sick and tired of it. It's a hate crime," she said.

"I can't get the image off my head, the fact of somebody hitting her like that.

"Next time it could be ten times worse."

Sinn Féin councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile said all incidents at the interface that brought hurt, injury and trauma were "to be utterly condemned without reservation".

'Violent incidents'

"News of last night's attack is another incident, in a series of incidents, that have been orchestrated and carried out by gangs of youths on both sides of the interface for weeks now.

"Anyone with any information on last night's attack on this young girl should bring it forward to the PSNI, because it is they who now need to act on bringing an end to these violent incidents.

"The reality of all of this is that it's our neighbours on both sides of the interface who are left to pick up the pieces.

"Last night's attack in no way represents the people of the Short Strand and my thoughts are with the young girl concerned and I wish her a very speedy recovery."

Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland said he felt "a mixture of sadness and anger" at the incident.

"Shannon lives on a street which itself is attacked on a fairly regular basis by golf balls, bolts, stones and slates.

"She doesn't feel safe in her own home. She goes out to leave a couple of friends home and finds herself attacked in the street.

"I suppose the question is, what are the police doing?"

Police have appealed for anyone with information about the incident to contact Strandtown police station.