25 March 2004 Edition
Catholic family lucky to be alive
Strabane Sinn Féin Councillor Charlie McHugh said the petrol bomb attack carried out on a Catholic family in Newtownstewart, County Tyrone, at around 11pm on Sunday night 20 March, "was the most serious in a series of sectarian attacks in the Newtownstewart and Castlederg area by loyalists in recent months".
Tracy Mayse, who is pregnant with her third child, had been watching television with her partner when petrol bombers attacked their Avery Park home.
The woman's partner, who asked not to be named, said a device was thrown through the downstairs sittingroom window, setting fire to the blinds and the back of the chair on which his partner was sitting. The flames also set fire to his partner's hair.
"I managed to get her up and out of the room because she just froze," he said. "We ran upstairs to get our other children and get out of the house. We then phoned the fire service." All four family members were treated for smoke inhalation.
The man said those responsible for the attack could have been in no doubt that they would injure his partner, as she had been clearly visible beside the window through the open curtains.
"Local people have told me the local PSNI are not treating these attacks seriously and actually seem to be showing sympathy towards the loyalists who are carrying out these sectarian attacks," said Charlie McHugh.