Police are treating the petrol bomb attack on a house in Ballykeel this morning (Tuesday) as “a religious hate crime”, Superintendent Ryan Henderson of Mid and East Antrim PSNI says.
The device was thrown through the front window of the house at Kintyre Park in the Ballykeel estate, at around 1am on Tuesday.
It ignited in the room, but those inside were able to put out the flames themselves. No-one was injured.
Superintendent Henderson said officers are ‘working hard’ to identify those behind the attack.
He said: ““We are treating the attack as a religious hate crime. The home owners are long standing and valued members of our community. Police and other statutory agencies are offering support to the family. Officers have worked through the night at the crime scene and will continue to work hard to identify those behind the petrol bomb attack.
“The people who carried out this petrol bomb attack are totally out of step with our modern and multi-cultural community. I am disgusted by this attack and I know that the vast majority of Ballymena people will react in a similar way.
“I am thankful that we are not dealing with serious injuries or even deaths today. There were four people in the house at the time of the attack and the safety of neighbours was also put at risk early this morning.
“The criminals who carried out this attack are ignorant, intolerant and dangerous people. They offer nothing to their community and the people of Ballymena. Their hateful views and intolerance have manifested themselves in a dangerous attack on an innocent family. I would again ask that anyone who has any information on the incident contact Ballymena detectives on the non-emergency number 101. Or, you can contact Crimestooppers on 0800 555 111.”
Alderman Gregg McKeen, Chairperson of Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership added:
”Behaviour such as this will not be tolerated. Mid and East Antrim PCSP has prioritised hate crime in its current Action Plan and will continue to strive to rid our community of such despicable acts.
“The Bilingual Advocacy Service funded through PCSP encourages the reporting of hate crime and supports between 100-200 individuals per month in the Ballymena area. We are hoping to extend that service to Larne and Carrickfergus in the near future.
“Ballymena Inter-ethnic Forum which implements the Bilingual Advocacy Service on behalf of Mid and East Antrim PCSP is also working to promote education and awareness of different cultures among young people through Addressing Hate Crime through Art, an intervention which has been singled out for praise by the Minister for Justice”.
Alderman McKeen concluded: “We will do all in our power to ensure this work continues in the wider community with a review to reducing and eliminating hate crime for everyone in Mid and East Antrim.”