A six-year-old Filipino girl thought her family was going to die after their west Belfast home was targeted in a gun attack.
The terrified child was the first to discover the shards of glass on the floor in what the family revealed was the fourth attack on the house in Distillery Street in six years.
Police last night confirmed they were investigating “several lines of inquiry” for the attack, including the foreign nationals’ worst fear that it was a racially-motivated incident.
A shot was fired into the house shortly before 1am yesterday, leaving a hole in a front window already covered by a metal grille following previous incidents.
The bullet crossed the living room and was found by the family on their carpet.
Police have removed the bullet for forensic examination.
No-one was injured but the Filipino women, who live in the house with their young daughters, aged 12 and six, were yesterday in a state of shock after the latest attack on their home.
Maribel Nixon (49) and her niece Marilou Aringo (39) own the house jointly and both say they enjoy friendly relations with their neighbours and don’t want to sell their home.
Since 2006, when Maribel first moved in, the house has been attacked, firstly by a large stone which was thrown through her front window; by another stone or missile two years later, and by a firework which was jammed into the letterbox last Halloween night.
Both women have been living and working in Northern Ireland for a number of years.
Maribel, who works as a catering assistant at the nearby Royal Victoria Hospital, said she had just got into bed when she heard a loud bang. She said she ignored it because she thought it was a firework. It was her niece’s daughter Noreen who raised the alarm.
Her mother Marilou, who had been working nightshift as a nurse at the Ulster Hospital, said: “She got out of bed and came down stairs at around nine and saw the glass on the floor.
“She asked me: ‘Mummy, are we going to die?’”
Maribel was reluctant to brand the attacks as a hate crime simply because of her ethnicity.
“Sometimes I think it’s racial, but I don’t know whether it’s just fun for the teenagers or hoods.”
Despite the four attacks on her home, Maribel remains positive and says she wants to stay where she is.