Northern Ireland

Armed men involved in racist attacks in north Belfast

The gang threw a bin at a house occupied by Hungarian residents in Hesketh Park
Image caption The gang attacked and threatened two Hungarian men on a north Belfast street and followed them to Hesketh Park, where they threw a bin at a house occupied by residents who are also Hungarian

A gang of men carrying knives and a hatchet have carried out a series of racist attacks in north Belfast.

The gang assaulted and threatened two Hungarian men who were walking in the Glenbryn area on Friday night.

They then followed the pair to Hesketh Park, where the gang threw a bin at the window of a house occupied by other Hungarian residents.

On Saturday afternoon, the same gang threatened more Hungarian residents at a second house in Hesketh Park.

Police have linked all three incidents and are treating them as "race hate crimes".

'Dangerous individuals'

The first attack took place at about 22.30 BST on Friday at the junction of Glenbryn Gardens and Ardoyne Road, when the gang approached and attacked the two Hungarian men, who are in their 20s.

The victims fled towards Hesketh Park, where they got into a car and escaped.

Image copyright BBC (Mervyn Jess)
Image caption After throwing a bin at one house in Hesketh Park on Friday night, the armed gang returned to the same street the next day and threatened more Hungarian residents in a second property

The injuries the pair sustained in the street assault were not life-threatening.

None of the residents in the Hesketh Park property were hurt when the gang threw the bin at their window.

At about 15:45 BST on Saturday, police responded to a report that the gang, again armed with knives, were threatening more Hungarian residents in the second house.

However, when officers reached the scene the gang had left.

Insp Roy Burnside said: "Inquiries into these incidents are still very much ongoing, however, I would ask anyone who knows anything to contact us in Tennent Street police station on the non-emergency number 101."

Alliance councillor for the area, Nuala McAllister, said she was "shocked and appalled" by the attacks.

She described those responsible as "very dangerous individuals who must be urgently apprehended by the police".

'Fear'

Ms McAllister added: "They do not represent the views of the people in the local area. I know the vast majority of the local community are totally opposed to all forms of racism."

North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly, from Sinn Féin, said: "Racists who carry out such despicable actions, in an attempt to instill fear into families living here, need to be taken off our streets."

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