Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Derry taxi attacks 'attempted murder'

Smashed taxi window
The taxi was hit twice by bricks on Saturday

A series of attacks on taxi drivers over the weekend were attempted murder, a taxi owners' representative has said.

Three vehicles were damaged when bricks and other missiles were thrown at them from Bishop's Gate on Saturday.

The drivers believe the attacks were sectarian and said those responsible came from the predominately Protestant Fountain estate.

But Fountain community leader Jeanette Warke said she "wasn't sure" the attacks were sectarian.

Andrew McCartney from the North West Taxi Proprietors Association said it was "traumatic" for those involved.

"You fire a breeze block from a height onto the top of a vehicle, and you have the potential to kill someone.

"I think it's about time the community in the Fountain stand up and stopped people from doing this," he said.

One of the taxi drivers, who did not want to be identified, said he was hit on the arm with a brick and a female colleague was also injured.

He said he has no doubt it was sectarian, and believes it was an attempt to force Catholic drivers off the road.

"I felt the thud on the front window and it sort of slowed me a bit, then the next minute another brick came in the side window and it hit me.

"I kept control of the car but I was shocked.

"It was a trap set for drivers. They are looking for cars coming through with taxi signs on the roof, because they know the majority of taxi drivers on the Cityside are Catholics, and they know what they're aiming for," he said.

Fountain community leader Jeanette Warke said she "wasn't sure" the attacks were sectarian.

"Nobody likes to see an attack like that happening, but we don't know where these people came from, they could be from anywhere.

"They could be young people running the walls, as they do, so I don't know whether we should label it as sectarian," she said.

The police have urged those involved in the attacks to be aware of the "seriousness of their actions".

"We would ask parents to help us bring an end to such irresponsible and reckless behaviour," a police spokesperson said.

"Please help us avoid a tragedy by advising your children against becoming involved in this dangerous activity.

"Try to make sure you know where your children are and what they are up to. "

Sinn Fein councillor Patricia Logue has condemned those responsible and said drivers could be badly hurt or killed if the attacks persisted.



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