Northern Ireland news

Woman and family escape injury in sectarian attack

A woman and her daughter who don't want to identified show a remnant of one of the petrol bombs that were thrown at her home in the Springfield Heights area of west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

A WOMAN and her daughter narrowly escaped injury when petrol bombs were hurled at her home in a sectarian attack.

Police are treating an incident in the Springfield Heights area of west Belfast as a "sectarian hate crime".

Several bottles containing flammable liquid, believed to be white spirits, were thrown at the house on Sunday evening.

Some of them hit the ground at the front of the property, briefly igniting before going out again. No damage was caused.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, was at home with her daughter, 11-year-old son and one-year-old grandson at the time.

She said it was the first time since she moved into the house nine years ago that she had been targeted.

A remnant of one of the petrol bombs that were thrown at a home in the Springfield Heights area of west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

Her home is the last one on the street, and stands beside a fence which backs onto waste ground near the loyalist Springmartin area.

The woman said she was in her kitchen with her daughter at about 5pm on Sunday when they noticed something in flames at the front of the house.

"We went out and saw a bottle with a cloth in it. I then saw an arm up over the fence and told my daughter `quick get inside'. As we got in the door, another bottle smashed outside the neighbour's house," she said.

"If we had not got inside quick enough it would have hit us. It was shocking. Nothing like this happens here, it is normally quiet."

A west Belfast woman who didnâ??t want to be identified at the area from where a number of petrol bombs were thrown at her home in the Springfield Heights area Picture Mal McCann.

Police were called to the house and had only left a short time when the property was hit again at about 9pm.

"I was panicking during the night in case anything was put through the door," the woman added.

She said that she believed the attack was linked to tensions surrounding last week's election.

Her property is close to, but not protected by, the 18-foot-high peace wall, which runs along Springmartin Road and incorporates New Barnsley police station.

There have been incidents over the years on the wasteland. In 2013, a mortar device, apparently aimed at New Barnsley police station, was discovered on it.

A west Belfast woman who didnâ??t want to be identified at the area from where a number of petrol bombs were thrown at her home in the Springfield Heights area Picture Mal McCann.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said he was relieved no one was killed or seriously injured "in this reckless and callous attack".

"This attack comes in the wake of a campaign of sectarian intimidation carried out against families accessing social housing in north Belfast, and a vicious sectarian campaign of abuse and threats against people standing for public office," he said.

"Organised sectarian violence in our society must be stamped out. Political and community leaders have a responsibility to condemn those behind this hate crime and work tirelessly to bring these attacks to an end."

The PSNI said it was keen to hear from anyone with information.

"Enquiries are continuing and the incident is being treated as a sectarian hate crime," a spokesman said.

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