Neighbours of a woman who was subjected to a “vicious assault” with hammers in Londonderry have expressed their shock and said those behind it are nothing more than “thugs”.
Police are investigating the incident at a flat in Fountain Hill in the city, during which a woman in her forties was attacked.
It was reported to police at 10.15pm last night.
The violence was said to be perpetrated by six men, four of whom forced entry to the property, while two stood guard outside.
The Belfast Telegraph understands the perpetrators identified themselves as the INLA and the woman has now vacated the property.
Detective Sergeant Ballentine from Strand Road Criminal Investigation Branch said that once inside the flat, the attackers forced entry to a room where they struck the woman on her leg and hands with weapons, including hammers.
They also caused extensive damage to the flat by smashing windows, doors and other furnishings before making off in the direction of Top of the Hill.
Detective Sergeant Ballentine added: “This was a terrifying ordeal for the victim who sustained minor injuries.
“She was attacked in her home, a place where she deserves to feel safe, and, understandably, she is very distressed.
“While we’ve made a number of enquiries into this incident, which we are investigating as an aggravated burglary, working to establish who was involved and a motive, we're appealing to anyone who may have information about what happened, and who has not yet spoken with us, to get in touch.
“In particular, we want to hear from anyone who saw these men in the area, between 10.05pm and 10.15pm.”
Windows at the side and front of the property were smashed.
The Belfast Telegraph spoke to local residents who said they heard loud banging while sitting watching the TV last night.
A man who has lived in the area for over 20 years said those responsible for the attack are “nothing more than thugs”.
“To do this to a woman especially, they’re lower than snakes. When I was growing up nothing like this never happened.
“We’ve had no bother like this here in the past. It is generally quiet around this area, the worst we had was people stealing the bins to burn during a riot years ago.”
Residents explained that the flat has had four different tenants over recent years.
SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin whose office is based a short distance from the scene said she “utterly condemned” those behind the “vicious attack”.
She added: “Everyone has a right to be safe in their own home. This violent and intimidatory behaviour has no place in our city.
“It is important that this is fully investigated and the perpetrators face the full force of the law.”
UUP Alderman Ryan McCready expressed “shock” to hear of the “terrifying ordeal” of a woman being attacked in her home.
“My thoughts go to the victim and her friends and family, a very distressing incident indeed.
“There is no place in society for this sort of violence, intimidation and criminality.”
The number to call with information is 101, quoting reference number 2098 of 14/06/22.
You can also submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/