Brutal attack on five Romanian men blamed on loyalist paramilitaries
Five Romanian men have been forced out of their Co Antrim home after being viciously attacked by a masked gang.
The incident, which took place in Hollybank Drive, Newtownabbey on Sunday night, is being treated by police as a hate crime.
It was reported that, at around 8.20pm, a number of masked men forced their way into the house, smashing all of the downstairs windows and assaulting the occupants with baseball bats.
The five men inside sustained a number of injuries and one of them was taken to hospital for treatment. They are believed to be aged from their mid teens to late 20s.
It is believed the attack involved loyalist paramilitaries.
Neighbours - who were alerted to the attack by the sound of breaking glass and shouting - witnessed the perpetrators entering the house wearing balaclavas and armed with baseball bats during what they branded a "sickening" attack.Romanian man stabbed in brutal racist attack by loyalist paramilitaries - four others injured
A woman who went to the assistance of the victims said the horrifying scene was like something she had witnessed during the Troubles.
"When I went in, every window was smashed and the house was wrecked. The bathroom and toilet had been kicked in," she said.
"There was blood and glass everywhere and wee teenage boys upstairs in the back room were really frightened."
The neighbour told the BBC: "In the main bedroom, a man aged 28 or 29 was lying on the floor with severe head injuries.
"He had been beaten with a baseball bat.
"It looked as though his leg had been broken and he had a dislocated shoulder.
"His head was bleeding very badly.
"He was crying and obviously really in shock so we just tried to reassure him."
Local politicians have condemned those behind the incident, including Alliance councillor Tom Campbell who said the community had been left appalled by the attack.
"I unreservedly condemn this attack which appears to have been a hate crime," he said.
"Those individuals who represent paramilitaries have no support in the community.
"This incident was absolutely disgusting and must have been terrifying for the victims.
Ulster Unionist councillor Stephen McCarthy said it was "completely reprehensible" that a group of people living within the community could be targeted in this manner.
"This is not the image that the good people of Monkstown want their area to be known for and there is huge shock at what has happened," he explained.
Sinn Fein councillor Michael Goodman also strongly condemned those responsible.
"There can be no place for racism or any other forms of discrimination in our society," he said.
SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland added: "There is no place for violence in our society, and those who are responsible for this assault must face the full force of the law."
Anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information in relation to the attack can contact detectives via the non emergency police number on 101.