Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 12:33 UK

Muslim couple say train attack was racial hatred

East Midlands Trains
Abida Malik and Asif Ahmed were targetted by up to 20 men

Police are searching for a gang of about 20 Derby men after an attack on a Muslim couple on a train to Nottingham.

Abida Malik said the men called her and her husband Asif Ahmed terrorists. One man put Mr Ahmed in a headlock saying he was making a citizen's arrest.

The gang boarded the train at Loughborough on Easter Sunday evening, after what British Transport Police believe was a drinking session.

Officers have described it as an "unpleasant and nasty" incident.

'Scared to travel'

Abida Malik, who wears the hijab - or headscarf - was travelling home after a wedding in Leicester with her husband.

She said: "I was full of fear, my heart was beating really fast and I felt so helpless because there was so many of them.

"Everyone seemed too scared to do anything... Now I don't want to travel on the train by myself, and I don't want him (Asif) to go by himself. They could have stabbed him".

'Drinking session'

It is believed the gang of up to 20 had been drinking in Loughborough before boarding the train at 1847 BST to Nottingham and then later returning to Derby.

The man who grabbed Mr Ahmed in a headlock is described as of mixed race, in his mid 30s with short black hair. He was scruffy and wearing a grey top and dark trousers.

We will not tolerate this sort of behaviour on our railways and are doing all we can to bring these men to justice
Insp Robin Edwards

Robin Edwards the East Midlands Sector Commander at British Transport Police said: "The group appeared intent on causing as much suffering as they possibly could.

"These incidents are few and far between, but this was an extremely unpleasant and nasty incident to be subjected to.

"We have high profile patrols... But we are not able to attend every train service."

British Transport Police said uniform and CID officers were doing all they could to identify the suspects and bring them to justice.

They are working closely with East Midlands Trains and are looking at CCTV footage.

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