Northern Ireland news

Family targeted in two racist attacks at their home in Co Down

A car was set alight in the most recent incident in O' Donnell Park, Castlewellan. Picture by Mal McCann

A FAMILY have been targeted in two racist attacks at their home in Co Down in just two days, police have said.

Two adults and two children had to be escorted from their home after a car was set alight outside in the O'Donnell Park area of Castlewellan.

Police said they are treating the blaze, which happened just after midnight on Thursday, as arson. It came just two days after a woman living in the house was assaulted at the property.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, four men broke into the same house and attacked the victim, who is aged in her 40s.

The PSNI said it was treating the two attacks as "suspected racially-motivated hate crime".

Inspector Philip Quinn said it was "extremely fortunate" no-one had been injured in the arson attack outside the house.

"The lady who was assaulted on Tuesday morning described three of her assailants as being dressed completely in black, while the fourth was in a white top and bottoms," he said.

"Two were wearing monkey hats. I would ask anyone who saw anything that might help us identify these people or who saw anything suspicious in the area around 2.30am to contact police in Downpatrick.

"This family has been frightened and upset by these two attacks - which had the potential to be much more serious. It is extremely fortunate that no-one was hurt as the fire could have spread to the house in which two young children were sleeping.

"I would like to thank the neighbours who reacted quickly last night - calling the emergency services to the scene and alerting the family."

Police have appealed for anyone who saw suspicious activity in the O'Donnell Park or Burrenwood Road area on Thursday night to contact them.

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