10 September 2005

Man critical after attack by gang


A man is in a critical condition in hospital after being attacked by a gang of up to 10 men in east Belfast.

The 29-year-old, believed to be a Catholic, was discovered lying on a river walkway at the junction of the Albertbridge Road and Short Strand.

He had sustained a head injury and was given emergency treatment at the scene.

The gang, wearing peach, pink, or yellow tops, were all seen running up the Ravenhill Road. A sectarian motive has not been ruled out for the attack.

The police said they did not know at this stage why the man was singled out.

Witnesses are being urged to contact the police.

Sinn Fein assembly member Alex Maskey said he believed the victim was attacked because he was Catholic.

"There is no doubt that these incidents do rise in the number, and very often the intensity, depending on what the current political situation is," he said.

"Belfast this week has been caught up in a whole series of protests and there has been a lot of political controversy over these parades.

"I have no doubt that that in some way goes on to inflame others at grass-roots level and to carry out such attacks."

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers condemned the attack which he described as "savage and horrendous".

"I hope and pray that the man will make a full recovery. There have been several similar incidents in this area over many years and I call on the police to step up patrols," he said.

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