Northern Ireland

Cyclists attacked near Belfast city centre

A cyclist taking part in a weekly bike ride into Belfast city centre with friends has told of his shock after the group was attacked.

The man, who gave his name only as Darren, said a group of about four men, who appeared to be drunk, tried to knock them off their bikes.

He said two of the men then threw punches at the cyclists.

The attack happened "on a main arterial route" shortly after 06:00 GMT on Friday.

None of the cyclists was injured during the incident.

Darren described what happened: "We're coming into Belfast city centre, it's a main arterial route, just up ahead of us we see a group of four young guys - early 20s probably - coming stumbling up the footpath.

"As we're maybe 15 or 20 yards away from them, they step out on to the road shouting expletives at us, totally unprovoked.

"They come out on to the road, confront two of the boys and try to push them off their bikes."

'Inaccurate punches'

He said that at this stage the rest of the group of cyclists got their two friends away from the attackers.

"Everyone's just then trying to make their way off again to try and get away from these four fellas when two of them chase after us and start throwing punches," he said.

"Thankfully they were so drunk - I'm not sure if it was drink or drugs - that they weren't terribly accurate with their punches and no-one was hurt."

Darren said, nevertheless, it had been a frightening experience.

"It's more the shock factor and the fear of what could have happened," he said.

"It was nothing sectarian, just a group of guys who were very drunk, out of their heads, who saw us as an easy target."