An arson attack on an Indian family in Antrim which caused “revulsion” in the local community is being treated as a hate crime by police.
Subi Philip and her two children, aged 10 and eight, were inside their Meadow Drive home when arsonists struck just before 6.20am on Friday.
Their car, which was parked in the driveway, was destroyed and the house suffered internal smoke damage.
“I just heard a big bang and got out of my bed and saw a big fire,” Mrs Philip said. “When I came downstairs and saw it, I started screaming.
“My girls didn’t know why I was screaming and they were screaming too. I was really panicking.”
Neighbours knocked her door urging her to leave but she feared it was the arsonists.
“I was scared. I wasn’t sure if they were there to attack me and my girls or not,” she said.
When she realised that they were trying to help, she opened the door and fled with her children.
“I got out and I ran,” she told the BBC. “It was so scary.”
She had no idea why anyone would attack her home.
Members of the local Indian community gathered at the house to offer support.
UUP MLA Adrian Cochrane-Watson said: “Whatever the motivation, there is simply no excuse and it was the work of cowards who have earned the contempt of the entire Antrim community.
“I have visited the house and spoken to the lady who was at home with her two children when she was alerted to the danger.
“She is obviously very upset, not least because her husband is currently in India to bury his father, which merely reinforces the cruelty behind this attack.
“I know that the vast majority of people in Antrim share my sense of revulsion at this incident.”
TUV leader Jim Allister slammed those responsible for such “horrendous criminal behaviour”.
The North Antrim MLA said: “The family themselves are already grieving for the passing of a grandfather, with the father out of the country for the funeral. This act makes a horrible event even worse.”
Sinn Fein’s national chairperson Declan Kearney described the incident as “disgraceful”.
Chief Inspector John Allen said it was being treated as a hate crime and appealed for information. “We believe that the attack was motivated by racial hatred,” he said.