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arson attack Two caravans torched as local feud escalates following pitchfork brawl at petrol station

The burnt-out shells of two mobile homes were visible at a site close to the Derry-Donegal border near Muff

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Two caravans were destroyed in the Ballyarnett area of Derry yesterday in what is understood to be a further escalation in a feud.

The burnt-out shells of two mobile homes were visible at a site close to the Derry-Donegal border near Muff.

When the Belfast Telegraph attended the scene, one man could be seen exiting a wooded area next to the caravan site in possession of a knife.

It comes after an incident on Tuesday, when a car towing a caravan was seen veering into McGinley’s petrol station on the Buncrana Road.

Seconds later, a vehicle ploughed into another on the main road outside the service station.

In a video circulated widely online, a woman can be seen lifting a young child from one of the damaged cars.

A number of men then confronted each other in the forecourt of the petrol station, with one wielding a pitchfork.

Fighting spilled into McGinley’s Spar shop, where police apprehended a number of men inside.

In total, six men were arrested on suspicion of a number of offences.

The shop had to be closed for the remainder of the day after staff and customers, including young children, were left traumatised.

Yesterday afternoon, police received a report of a fire in the Ballyarnett area just before 1.45pm. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and PSNI attended the scene of the blaze, which had resulted in two caravans being destroyed.

PSNI Inspector Lavery said: “While an investigation is under way to establish exactly what happened and the cause of the fire, at this time we are treating this as suspected arson.

“This was a reckless act and it is fortunate the fire didn’t spread to more caravans and that no one was injured.

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“We’re keen to hear from anyone who was in the area at around 1.30pm to 1.45pm and saw any suspicious activity to call us on 101 and quote reference number 928 of 18/08/21.”

Sandra Duffy, a Sinn Fein councillor for Ballyarnett, described the incident as “shocking and very frightening” for people to see.

She also urged members of the public to come forward with information.

Commenting on the scenes from the day before, she added: “My thoughts are with people who were in the shop and other people who were around the area at the time because it was a terrifying experience for them and I know that children were there at the time.”

Rory Farrel, an SDLP councillor for the area, said an investigation was ongoing, and if arson is confirmed, “this was a reckless and mindless attack that could have resulted in a fatality”.

“Thankfully, no one was injured, and I would appeal to anyone with information to contact the PSNI immediately,” he added.

You can submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form at http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport.

Alternatively, you call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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