Masked gang batter mother with hammer as her children sleep upstairs
An attack on a mother who was punched and beaten with a hammer in her own home by three men while her children slept upstairs has sent shockwaves through Londonderry.
Police are linking the attack, which happened in the Bloomfield Park area of Galliagh just before 11pm on Thursday, to paramilitaries.
The victim was assaulted 24 hours after a man in his 30s was shot in both legs one street away on Brookdale Park.
Detective Inspector Michael Winters said: "We received a report just before 10.45pm that three masked men had forced their way into a house in Bloomfield Park.
"It's reported that two of the men assaulted the female occupant. She was punched and slapped and hit around the legs with a hammer.
"This assault took place in one of the downstairs rooms.
"Meanwhile, the third male went around the house, smashing windows and mirrors.
"This was a violent attack on a female (whose) three young children were home at the time. While physically uninjured, they have been left badly shaken.
"It was a traumatic ordeal which no family should ever have to experience.
"While inquiries are at an early stage, this has all the makings of a paramilitary-style attack."
The woman and her three children, who are understood to be aged three, six and 11, have since left the property.
People living nearby said they were shocked and disgusted by the beating.
One woman who did not wish to be named explained: "I actually don't know what to say because I am in total shock and sick to my teeth at what has gone on here these past two days. These people (paramilitaries) have completely lost the run of themselves.
"Attacking a woman with a hammer has taken them to a new low. How dare they do that. To do it while her three wee children were sleeping upstairs shows you how depraved they actually are."
There was also widespread political condemnation, including from Aontu's Dr Anne McCloskey, who described the perpetrators as "savages".
"I don't think anyone could describe those who carried out this attack as men. They are nothing less than savages," she said.
"Three of them coming into a mother's home and brutalising her while her three children were asleep upstairs. How much trauma must they have suffered to wake up and witness their poor mother being beaten and their house being wrecked? It is disgusting and I know there is absolutely zero support for this".
SLDP councillor Rory Farrell added: "I am absolutely disgusted at the attack on this woman, which not only traumatised her but traumatised her three children as well."