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Paramilitaries blamed after hammer gang target house of young mum and child

By Allan Preston

Neighbours have blamed paramilitaries for a terrifying sledgehammer attack on an east Belfast property while a young mother and daughter were at home.

The incident happened around 8.30pm on Monday in Fashoda Street, just off the Beersbridge Road. It is understood the hammer-wielding gang entered the back of the property, smashing kitchen windows and causing further damage inside.

No one was hurt in the attack and the gang fled the scene soon afterwards.

Yesterday afternoon, the damage was still visible, with the front window of the house smashed and broken glass on the pavement outside.

The young mother, believed to be in her early 20s, was not at home but neighbours said they were angered by the attack.

One mum said she feared the involvement of paramilitaries in the incident, which had caused alarm in the area.

"Kids here are frightened going to school in the morning, it's absolutely ridiculous, and it was definitely paramilitary," she said.

"The police said there was an incident around the back, apparently they went in there with sledgehammers while the mum was in there with a wee one. I've heard the whole house is smashed up."

She added: "I feel for her having her wee daughter there, still in her pram. For them to come in with sledgehammers, it's not called for."

Another man, who has lived on the street for six years, said it was the first time he had experienced any trouble.

He added that the woman had been living in the house for only about four months. Another neighbour, who lives with two children aged under five, said she didn't want to comment but was angered by the disturbance so close to her family home.

DUP councillor George Dorrian said there could be no justification for possible paramilitary intimidation.

"If there's ever any cases of anti-social behaviour, I would urge people to go to the police," he commented. "It's certainly not for paramilitaries to be knocking on people's doors and issuing threats or, in this case, actually going in to wreck the house.

"I know Fashoda Street well, it's somewhere that's been improving with a new development of social housing.

"It's disappointing to hear that paramilitaries are continuing to wreck houses."

Police have appealed to anyone who witnessed the incident, or anything suspicious, or who has any information about it, to contact them.

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