Belfast Telegraph

Deliberate car fires in three streets racially motivated, says PSNI

Three cars were set on fire in what police have described as racially motivated hate crimes.

The PSNI said the arson attacks took place on three streets in east Belfast in the early hours of Sunday.

In the first incident police were alerted to a car having been set on fire on Florida Street off the Ravenhill Road shortly before 4.15am.

Officers said the vehicle was extensively damaged and a number of other cars parked nearby were also damaged as a result.

In the second attack, around the same time, a police patrol in the Wayland Street area off the Castlereagh Road discovered a small fire on the bonnet of a parked car.

The fire was put out but not before the front of the car and the windscreen were damaged.

And in the third incident, which occurred a short time later, a car parked on Carlingford Street near the Woodstock Road was extensively damaged after being set on fire.

The PSNI said it was investigating a link between the attacks and said they were being treated as racially motivated hate crimes.

Officers appealed for witnesses to come forward.

Local councillors condemned the attacks.

Ulster Unionist Sonia Copeland said: "It is vile that anyone would be targeted in an attempt to make them feel unwelcome in an area.

"Hate crime cannot be tolerated in any shape or form."

She added: "Those who are acting in this vile way need to consider the effect it has, not just on the victims who are now left without vehicles, but also on the entire area."

Sinn Fein's Mairead O'Donnell said: "These racist attacks come on the back of UVF intimidation which saw four Catholic families forced to leave their homes in Cantrell Close just a few streets away from this morning's arson attacks.

"Those responsible for these attacks have shown blatant disregard for the community. The racists need to hear loud and clear that their cowardly actions are unacceptable."

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