Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Yobs as young as 10 among gang of children behind sectarian petrol bomb attacks in Derry

A gang of children aged as young as 10 could be behind petrol bomb attacks in Londonderry.

A senior officer has called on parents to help stop what are becoming nightly attacks and vowed to report the children they apprehend to social services.

CCTV footage has shown the youngsters running rampant through the wider Bogside area before hurling stones and petrol bombs over the Derry Walls into the Fountain estate.

Two children aged 13 and 14 were arrested on Sunday in connection with riotous behaviour.

Up to a dozen children have been viewed hurling bricks, petrol and paint bombs as well as other missiles over the Walls into the Protestant Fountain area from the nationalist Bogside.

Councillor Patricia Logue said the residents in the wider Bogside area were too scared of the gang to challenge them.

She said: "I would appeal to parents to be extra-vigilant as to where their children are.

"The attacks on the Fountain are downright sectarian and sectarianism, no matter what quarter it comes from, is totally wrong.

"I would also say that people from the surrounding areas such as Alexander House, Long Tower Court and the general Bogside area have suffered greatly over these past few nights due to the activity of these young people.

"They are not only attacking the Fountain, they are destroying their own community as well.

"I have had a number of phone calls from people who have had their bins taken and burnt and they are afraid to challenge these young people because of their language."

Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said that while the gang viewed on the CCTV footage were around a dozen in number, there were a similar number of spectators.

He said: "This is a gang of young people aged, we believe, between 10 and 14.

"We have increased patrols in the area and have additional officers tasked to investigation but I would call on parents to know where their children are and what they are doing.

"If your child is coming home covered in paint or smelling of petrol it is up to you to keep your child away from this type of disorder.

"We will inform social services about any child we identify at this behaviour and parents should know there are far-reaching consequences for your child's future.

"Last year we were contacted by a parent whose child was refused a visa into the United States because they had been found guilty of this very type of attack."

FACTFILE

Last May the Justice Minister announced that 11 of the 16 security gates along the historic Derry Walls would be removed and there would be additional CCTV coverage in and around the walls. Among residents happy for the remaining gates to stay is William Jackson whose home is near a hotspot for attacks from the Bogside. He said: "There is a small enough number of Protestants in the west bank but without those gates there would be even less."

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