Terrorised family fear racist thugs could strike again
A Filipino family whose house was fire-damaged in a racially-motivated attack have said they are considering leaving their Whiteabbey home because they fear they could be targeted again.
Ishis Calungsod (30), his wife Emmie (29) and their two children moved into their Fernagh Avenue home two months ago but are now thinking of moving after arsonists set fire to two cars in their street during the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Both vehicles were extensively damaged and the front of Mr Calungsod’s house was scorched.
Police are treating both incidents as racially-motivated hate crimes.
Mr Calungsod said his children, who are aged four and six, have been left terrified by the ordeal.
The young family were asleep when the car, which was parked at the front door of their house, went up in flames. They were not aware the fire had spread until the fire brigade burst into their home to rescue them.
The Filipino, who moved to Northern Ireland five years ago to find work, said he could not think of any reason why they had been targeted.
The vehicle, he said, belonged to his friend Arnel Verzonilla, who lives several doors up. The other car damaged in the attack belongs to a neighbouring Indian family, the Tomys, who have lived in the area for the past six years.
However this was the second time the Tomys have been victims of a racially-motivated attack. In 2006 arsonists set fire to a different car.
“We didn’t have any problems before but now we are thinking of moving again,” Mr Calungsod said. “We moved here because our friends live here. They said it was a nice quiet street, good for our kids. And it had been. But now we are all scared.”
Meanwhile, police are also treating a series of attacks in south Belfast as racist and sectarian.
A group of up to eight masked men forced their way into a house on Coolfin Street shortly before 8.30pm on Monday where they slapped a Catholic woman across the face and smashed her furniture.
Following the attack the mob then forced their way into another house where they ransacked the inside then broke windows in a neighbouring house.
Minutes later they then forced their way into a house on the Donegall Road where they assaulted a man, who is believed to be Polish.