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Baby's lucky escape after loyalists fire shots at home of Catholic family in Derry


The house at Rossdowney Drive targeted in a sectarian gun attack

The house at Rossdowney Drive targeted in a sectarian gun attack

The house at Rossdowney Drive targeted in a sectarian gun attack

The house at Rossdowney Drive targeted in a sectarian gun attack

Neighbour Betty Hutchman voices her disgust

Neighbour Betty Hutchman voices her disgust

The house at Rossdowney Drive targeted in a sectarian gun attack

Neighbours in a quiet Londonderry street have been left terrified after gunmen shot through the window of a young mother's house on Saturday night as her baby slept upstairs in what has been branded a sectarian attack.

Police say shots were fired at Rossdowney Drive in the Waterside at 11.30pm.

The woman, her baby daughter and her partner moved to the area six months ago, according to locals.

Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson said the attack was sectarian.

He added that the family had moved out and were awaiting to be rehoused.

"This family have been in contact with me last night," he said.

"They said that the attack was completely out of the blue and that the only reason they can think of for being attacked is because they are Catholics living in a predominantly Protestant area.

"They said it was a sectarian attack. I condemn this disgraceful attack.

"This was an attempt to kill someone.

"It is worrying that there seems to be increasing signs of activity from loyalist paramilitary groups within the Waterside.

"I would urge the PSNI to step up to the mark and tackle this problem, to bring those responsible for these actions to account."

One neighbour, 80-year-old Betty Hutchman, said that the gunmen could have easily killed the infant.

"I am just disgusted by this attack," she said.

"That child could have been down in the living room at the time of the shooting.

"Dear God help her, she could have been shot.

"This is just terrible that there was a child in that house when they shot in the window.

"God love that wee darling. Who knows what she has seen?

"The people who did this fired two shots in the window and could have killed this child as she lay sleeping.

"You just don't have these things here in this street and we don't want them here.

"It would be very traumatic for that mother and that baby to have come through this and some of the neighbours are completely traumatised by this attack."

Lucky Singh lives across the road with his pregnant wife and young son. He says that the neighbours are frightened.

"We live right opposite the house," he said.

"I heard a loud noise from outside after 11pm and my little boy asked me what it was. I thought it was a motorbike backfiring.

"We couldn't see anything in the street and we just tried to get him back to bed.

"Nothing like this has happened in this area at all. It is such a quiet area and you wouldn't think something like this would happen here. It is all older people and families."

He added: "It is frightening that someone would come and shoot at a house in our street. A lot of people are afraid now. The lady who lives next door to the victim was absolutely terrified, her son came and took her away."

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said that the incident must have been terrifying for the family.

"This is a disturbing and worrying attack within our community," he said.

"This would have been a terrifying experience for the inhabitants. The reality is today we could have been mourning the loss of life."

Ulster Unionist councillor Mary Hamilton, who lives in the area, said someone could have been killed and condemned the attack as disgraceful.

The SDLP's Martin Reilly said that it was "a reckless and sinister attack on a home in our city that could have so easily become a tragedy".

Police say they are keen to hear from anybody who was in the area at the time and may have witnessed the shooting or anyone who may have heard the shots being fired or who saw anyone fleeing the area.

A PSNI spokesman said: "It is very fortunate that we are not dealing with a death this morning. The house where this incident occurred was occupied at the time and a toddler was sleeping in a room upstairs.

"This was an extremely reckless act in which we believe at least two shots were fired through the front windows of the property.

"I would urge anyone with any information to contact police on the non-emergency number, quoting reference 1436 of 19/8/117."

Belfast Telegraph