Police are appealing for witnesses following a sectarian arson attack at a school in the Willowfield Drive area of east Belfast last night, Friday July 13.
Coursework submitted by pupils was destroyed in the blaze, which also caused extensive damage to a classroom in what police described as a sectarian hate crime.
Inspector Thomas Fairfield said: “Members of the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and police attended the fire, which was reported to us around 9pm.
“A window in a downstairs classroom had been smashed, accelerant poured through it and set alight. No-one was injured in the incident, but there was extensive smoke and scorch damage to the walls and ceiling of the classroom and a lot of the pupils’ coursework was destroyed as a result.
“Thanks to the efforts of the Fire Service, the fire was extinguished and contained to the ground floor.” Insp. Fairfield confirmed that police are currently treating the fire as arson and a sectarian hate crime.
“Hate crime, in all its forms, is totally unacceptable. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that we live in a society where diversity is respected. If you or someone you know is the victim of a hate crime please contact police or your local support agency. For more information visit www.psni.police.uk/crime/hate-crime/here-to-help/
“We would also be interested in talking to members of a group of around 15 masked youths who, we believe, were involved in a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in the east of the city last night. Between around 8.30pm and 9.30pm, it was reported that a group was seen setting bins on fire and throwing stones and other items at passing motorists in the Woodstock Road/ Link area and setting off fireworks in the Willowfield Walk area.
“Anyone with information about this group, the arson in Willowfield Drive or any of the other incidents should ring us on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 1512 of 13/7/18.
“Alternatively information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestopppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”