A widow and her four sons escaped with their lives after a pipe bomb exploded in their home.
It is believed that yesterday's horrific attack in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, is part of a vicious campaign by a gang attempting to extort lucrative sums of cash from members of the Travelling community.
Tensions have increased in the west Limerick town following several violent incidents in recent days.
The latest attack happened in the Ballywilliam area of Rathkeale yesterday morning at a detached two-storey home.
Mary Ann Hegarty (57) and her four adult sons -- who had returned home for Christmas -- were asleep upstairs when their front door was forced open and a pipe bomb thrown inside at around 4am.
The device exploded causing extensive damage to the hallway and downstairs section of the house. No one was injured in the incident.
Another pipe bomb was found by gardai outside the home and made safe by the Army bomb disposal team.
It is suspected that the incident is linked to a gun attack in the town on Christmas Day and an arson attack on a vehicle last week.
Gardai believe a gang headed up by a criminal who also resides in west Limerick is attempting to extort cash from settled Travellers in the area.