Loyalist paramilitaries blamed for attack on Romanians in Newtownabbey
LOYALIST paramilitaries have been blamed for a baseball bat attack on five Romanian men which is being investigated by police as a hate crime.
A gang of men forced their way into a house in Hollybank Drive in Newtownabbey and assaulted the occupants.
The victims, originally from Romania, suffered numerous injuries and one was taken to hospital.
Police said they were "investigating a hate motive" and appealed for information about the attack, which happened at about 8.20pm on Sunday.
Alliance councillor Tom Campbell, who visited the scene yesterday, blamed loyalist paramilitaries.
"It certainly looks to me like paramilitary involvement," the Three Mile Water area councillor said.
"Northern Ireland should be a place for anyone to visit or to live without fear of harassment, violence or threat of violence.
"And I urge people who know anything about it to report it to police."
Asked yesterday whether loyalist paramilitaries were thought to have been involved, police said they were "exploring all potential lines of enquiry".
The attack is being treated by police as an aggravated burglary and police said they were still working to establish whether anything was taken from the property.
Neighbours were alerted by the sound of breaking glass.
One woman, who did not wish to be identified, described the scene as she tried to help the victims.
"Every window was smashed, the house was wrecked, the bathroom, the toilet had been kicked in, there was blood everywhere, glass everywhere, and wee teenage boys were upstairs in the back room really, really frightened," she told the BBC.
Sinn Féin councillor Michael Goodman said there can be "no place for racism or any other forms of discrimination in our society" and urged people to bring information to the police.
SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland also condemned the attack.
"Under no uncertain terms can such a brutal attack be justified. There is no place for violence in our society, and those who are responsible for this assault must face the full force of the law," she said.
Police urged anyone with information to phone detectives in Antrim or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.