'Vicious' sectarian gang attack on Catholic child in Northern Ireland
A vicious sectarian attack on a 15-year-old Catholic boy in Londonderry's Waterside at the weekend has been widely condemned.
A gang of around 30 youths confronted the teenager - who is not from the area and was with some friends - questioning him to find out what religion he was.
It is believed that once the gang realised he was a Catholic he was badly beaten by up to four people, who kicked him in the head and punched him in the face before he managed to run off.
Police have asked a passing motorist who intervened and took the boy home to safety to contact them.
Inspector William Calderwood described the attack as "vicious".
He said: "It was reported to us yesterday that at around 10.10pm on Saturday, May 19, a 15-year-old boy was walking along Rossdowney Road with his friends when they were stopped outside a shop by a group of approximately 30 youths.
"One of the males in the group, described as being at least 5ft 6ins with brown hair and a blonde fringe, aged 16 or 17 and wearing glasses, stopped and spoke to the boy. It was reported that this male then called over three other youths who were with him and the 15-year-old boy was assaulted.
"The victim sustained a number of kicks to his head, face and back and a punch to his face. His shirt was also ripped off.
"The attack ended up on the middle of the road where, at some point, the victim was able to get to his feet and run up the road towards a roundabout. A member of the public who was driving a white 4x4-type vehicle stopped and took the victim home. The victim subsequently attended hospital where he was treated for his injuries, which included bruising to his back and face, grazes to his arms and legs and a chipped tooth.
"This was a vicious attack which is being treated as a sectarian assault at this time. I would appeal to the man who stopped his vehicle and drove the victim home to get in touch."
DUP councillor David Ramsey has urged the boy's family to contact his office. He said: "The last thing anyone in the Waterside wants is to see this escalate and we are working on the ground to make sure this doesn't happen.
"We are trying to find out more about this and we would appeal to the boy's family to contact our office so we can get this sorted out.
"There is no place for sectarianism in our society."
Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson said the Waterside must not become a "no-go" area for Catholics.
He said: "Those responsible need to realise the possible consequences of their actions. At a time when communities in the Waterside are striving to cement peace and encourage reconciliation, it would appear that there is a very small minority intent on living in the past.
"I have been warning over recent times about an increase in such attacks.
"And we cannot allow a situation that during the hours of darkness parts of the Waterside become no-go areas.
"I am calling on the PSNI to put in whatever resources are needed to counteract and apprehend those responsible for carrying out these attacks."