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Migrants flee firebombed house after racist attack

By Adrian Rutherford

Four Lithuanians are to leave their home in Co Tyrone after it was targeted by racist thugs in a petrol bomb attack.

Two men and two women were in the house at Millburn Park in Cookstown, when a device was hurled at the front window shortly after 12.30am yesterday.

The occupants, including a woman who is eight months' pregnant, escaped injury after the device failed to penetrate the double-glazing but a car belonging to one of the occupants was destroyed after being set alight.

It is the third time that the Lithuanians, who have lived in the house for just a month, have been targeted.

Police believe the attack was racially motivated and have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

The occupants did not want to be identified but said they would be moving away from the area.

"We don't feel welcome here," one of the men said. "We have been in Cookstown for half a year but these things have only started to happen since we moved to this neighbourhood."

He said that he felt lucky to be alive and described the terrifying moments after the device was thrown at their house: "I was upstairs when it happened," he added. "I heard a big bang at the window and saw my car on fire.

"That is the third car destroyed. Windows have been broken and smashed too," he said.

The migrant workers are all in their early 20s and came to Northern Ireland seeking work.

Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone said he was disgusted by the attack: " These people are doing nothing different to what generations of people from this country have done," he said.

"They have gone abroad to try and earn a living for themselves and their families and the sooner the people responsible are caught then the better it will be.

"Had the device penetrated the glass then we could have been faced with a very disastrous situation this morning."

He said many foreign nationals had come to Cookstown in recent years and had made a positive contribution.

Local councillor Tony Quinn visited the Lithuanians yesterday morning and described those responsible as "mindless thugs".

"I came down to see them by way of reassurance and let them know they are welcome" he said.

The chairman of the town's District Policing Partnership, Cllr Sean Clarke, condemned the attack and urged anyone with information to come forward.

"This is totally out of order," he said. "People are entitled to live in peace and safety."

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