The mother of a north Belfast teenager who was brutally beaten by a gang of men at an interface has branded the attack as "an act of savagery".
Catholic Niall Ferrin was battered with golf clubs by a hooded gang of up to five men who came from the loyalist end of Clifton Park Avenue late on Friday evening.
The 15-year old St Gabriel's pupil is in a stable condition in the neurological ward at Belfast's Royal Victoria hospital following an operation to remove pressure from his brain.
His mother, Patricia, said her son was hit over the head with a golf club and after being battered to the ground. The teenager also had something tied around his neck. He has since told his mum his attackers were planning to drag him down an alleyway where he feared he would be beaten to death. Mrs Ferrin said she believed her son was saved by the intervention of a woman who told the gang to "leave the child alone".
The mother of five, from the Oldpark Road, said: "What annoys me most is that my son was beaten by a gang of grown men who were wearing hoods and gloves. To me, they just wanted to get a Catholic.
"There's no way they didn't know they were beating a child. They didn't say anything to him, he just heard them behind him and when he turned round he was hit on the head with a golf club. He wouldn't have been able to run from them as he has asthma.
"He's covered in cuts and bruises and one of his eyes is black and blue and partially closed. He's also got marks around his neck where something has been put round it and injuries from being dragged along the road."
Mrs Ferrin said she hoped the incident has been captured on a static CCTV camera which overlooks the interface area. Officers are currently examining footage taken from the camera as part of their investigation into the attack.
She added: "What they did to my son was an act of savagery carried out by grown men."
A PSNI spokeswoman said police want the driver of a car which stopped in the area shortly after the incident to contact them. She also revealed a man in his 20s who was arrested has since been released "on police bail pending further enquiries".
Meanwhile, residents from Clifton Park Avenue last night held a peaceful protest against the attack.