POLICE have appealed for information on a suspect after an 18-year-old was stabbed in the groin in a "sickening" attack in Belfast's Botanic Gardens.
The victim remained in a stable condition in hospital last night following the attack in the popular south Belfast park at around 4pm.
Police have said the victim was stabbed in each thigh and in the groin area, and have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
The park was cordoned off following the attack, as emergency services including armed PSNI officers arrived at the scene.
A police helicopter also circled the area surrounding the park as the investigation into the incident got underway.
A PSNI spokesperson said: "The suspect is described as being in his early 20s and approximately 5’8 in height. Our investigation is underway and we are appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time of the serious assault and who may have captured mobile phone footage to contact us on 101 quoting reference number 1246 30/01/23."
A spokesperson for the NI Ambulance Service said the victim was taken to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital following assessment and treatment at the scene.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Queen's University, the campus of which borders the park, confirmed in a social media post that no students or staff were involved in the incident.
"University staff are present and in ongoing contact with the police," they added.
SDLP councillor for the Botanic area, Gary McKeown, said he hoped the victim "makes a full recovery".
"There is no place for knife crime on our streets. Botanic Gardens is heavily used by dog walkers, commuters on bikes and families, and there’s a primary school right beside it, so a violent crime like this happening in broad daylight is sickening and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms," he said, adding he would "urge anyone with any information to please come forward".
Fellow Botanic councillor, Sinn Féin's John Gormley said: "This is an incredibly worrying incident, and my thoughts are with the victim. I would urge any witnesses or others with information about this to please contact the PSNI."