Northern Ireland news

Teenagers arrested over suspected sectarian assault in north Belfast

Police are treating the attack as a 'sectarian hate crime'

Two teenage boys, aged 14 and 15, have been arrested by police investigating a "vicious" sectarian assault on a 18-year-old man in north Belfast on Saturday night.

The 18-year-old was targeted as he was walked along Ardoyne Road on Saturday at around 10.30pm.

Police said the victim was attacked by a group of males following a "verbal exchange".

It is understood he was on his way home when he was asked where he was from, before being kicked as he lay on the ground.

The teenager, who is believed to be from the Ballysillan area, was taken to hospital following the attack.

The arrested pair remain in custody.

A PSNI spokesman said: "This was a vicious assault which we are treating as a sectarian hate crime".

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst last night said he was "disgusted" by the attack.

"Attackers asked where he was from before punching him and stomping on his head," he said.

"A sickening, barbaric attack by thugs who must be brought to justice for their actions."

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane said the the attack was "utterly despicable and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms".

"I've spoken with the young person's parents who are understandably shaken by this reckless, indiscriminate attack," he said.

"There is absolutely no place for sectarianism in north Belfast or indeed anywhere else in our society ...Anyone with information about this incident should come forward and report it to police."

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker also condemned the assault.

"An attack on a young male last night in north Belfast was cowardly, horrific and as a community we cannot tolerate any such incidents," he said.

"I would encourage anyone with information to share it with police and hope those involved can be identified."

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