THE PSNI have been called on to make a ‘sustained effort’ to address the actions of loyalist paramilitaries in Derry following a vicious weekend attack in the Waterside area.
It comes after three men were taken to hospital after being set on by a gang armed with hammers in the Bonds Street area in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Shortly before 1:40am, police received a report from a member of the public that a number of men were seen walking along Bonds Street armed with what was described as a sledgehammer and hammers.
An ambulance crew arrived at the scene a number of minutes later, where they found three men, two in their 30s and one aged in his 40s, who had sustained injuries from what appears to have been a violent attack.
They were taken to hospital by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) where they were treated for their injuries, which are not believed to be life threatening.
The Derry News understands that the incident may have been linked to an altercation which happened close to licensed premises in the same area earlier that night.
Speaking yesterday, PSNI Detective Sergeant Ray Phelan, described the incident as an ‘unprovoked and cowardly attack’, and confirmed that police were exploring a link to loyalist paramilitaries.
“We believe the three men were the victims of an unprovoked and cowardly attack by four assailants armed with weapons,” he said.
“Police are exploring a potential link to loyalist paramilitaries as part of our enquires.
“We are also working to establish how the men sustained their injuries, who was responsible, what the circumstances were leading up to the incident and we are making a number of appeals.”
He then issued a direct appeal to members of the public who may have been in the area prior to the attack.
“Were you in the Bonds Street or Lower Glendermott Road area between 1am and 1:40am on Sunday morning?” he said.
“Did you see any suspicious activity? Did you see a number of men walking along Bonds Street armed with hammers?
“We are keen to hear from anyone who was socialising in licensed premises on the Dungiven Road on Saturday night, and who witnessed any type of altercation.”
Meanwhile, the Waterside Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson said that he was ‘very concerned’ about the potential involvement of loyalist paramilitaries in the incident, and called on the PSNI to take measures to address the issue.
“I am very concerned that the PSNI are exploring a potential link to loyalist paramilitaries in this attack,” he said.
“I have been warning for some time now about the actions of these groups in the Waterside.
“I have raised concerns about ongoing criminality in the Waterside and the involvement of loyalist paramilitaries in attacks on property, homes and people.
“There needs to be a sustained policing effort to tackle the scourge of paramilitary intimidation and violence and its effect on public confidence.”
Cllr Jackson continued: “It is long past time that all paramilitary organisations left the stage. They are not wanted. They are not supported. There is no rationale for their existence.”
The DUP’s Drew Thompson, who is also chair of the local Police and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), said those behind the attack ‘need to get off the streets’.
“This is a very worrying incident, and there’s no excuse for it in this day and age,” he told the Derry News.
“Whoever was responsible for this needs to get off the streets, and get off the backs of the local community.”
Police have appealed to anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at Strand Road on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 154 of 13/05/18.
Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”
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