Northern Ireland news

Arson attack on home with eight children branded a hate crime

A family had to navigate their eight children down stairs to within two feet of the blazing front of their home following what police say was an arson attack with intent to endanger life. Picture by Hugh Russell

EIGHT children had to flee out of the back door of their burning Co Antrim home with their parents early yesterday after it was set alight in what has been branded a "hate crime".

Police have confirmed they are treating the attack on the house on Islay Street in Antrim town as arson with intent to endanger life.

The family, who had been living there for a year, told reporters they believe they were targeted because they are settled Travellers.

Neighbours said it was the second arson attack at the home in the last six months.

An accelerant was ignited at the front of the house shortly after midnight.

"We were never welcome," the father told UTV.

"We woke from our sleep and emerged to a fire. We couldn't get through the front door and had to got out the back door.

"Ten coffins could have been leaving this area this morning."

A police spokesman said: "There were 10 people in the house at the time of the incident - two adults and eight children aged between one and 13.

"The front door and its surround were completely destroyed."

There was also damage to the interior hallway and smoke damage to the front of the house.

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