By David Young, PA
Police believe a fire that extensively damaged a multicultural centre in Belfast was started deliberately.
Officers are treating the blaze at the Belfast Multi-Cultural Association property on Donegall Pass in the south of the city as a hate crime.
Vehicles belonging to people working at the centre have previously been vandalised in hate crime incidents.
More than 50 firefighters fought the blaze, which started at around 9pm on Thursday. Seven fire appliances were used to bring the flames under control.
The damage to the property was visible on Friday, with much of the roof of the historic building destroyed.
No-one was inside when the fire started and there were no injuries reported.
The building was being used as a food bank, with volunteers distributing packages to vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the association said it had been on the “receiving end of a lot of hostility and Islamophobia for years”.
It added: “We are heartbroken and shocked by these events but it will not deter us from any of our work. Our volunteers, despite shaken, are determined not to let down the communities we support.
“Thank-you to everyone who have been in contact to check up on us and extended their support and solidarity. We are immensely grateful for it all.”