DETECTIVES from Operation Reiner investigating “orchestrated” race hate attacks in east Belfast have arrested three men.
The special detective unit made the arrests following a wave of attacks on Monday night.
Up to ten masked men attacked cars and homes and racist graffiti was daubed on property.
Windows of a number of homes were attacked with paint bombs.
The victims of the attacks were either Romanians or Slovakians.
On Wednesday night, two men aged 22 and a 20-year-old man were detained during a planned operation.
All three were taken to the custody suite at Musgrave Street PSNI station for questioning.
They have now been released on police bail pending further inquiries.
Supt Mark McEwan said on Tuesday that the attacks were clearly racially motivated and designed to intimidate and scare people living within those homes.
“We’re following a number of lines of investigation, including the submission of items seized for forensic examination from those scenes and that work is ongoing at the moment,” he said.
He appealed to any members of the community to come forward with any information they might have.
“We’re working very closely with our partner agencies, such as Belfast City Council, the Housing Executive, the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities and other community groups to support the victims and the wider community, but to support primarily the victims through the investigative process,” he said.
“I believe this is not reflective of the wider area. This is not reflective of east Belfast.”
Justice Minister David Ford condemned the attacks.
“Overnight we have seen faceless people hiding under cover of darkness to carry out cowardly attacks on people and property,” he said.
In a tweet, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he “unreservedly” condemned the racist attacks in east Belfast.
Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland said there was “absolutely no justification” for targeting the homes or property of foreign nationals.
“It is totally unacceptable that anyone should be subject to attack or intimidation because of their race, religion or nationality,” he said.
“Those responsible for last night’s attacks need to seriously consider the impact it has on the image of east Belfast.”
SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell condemned the attacks, describing them as “despicable and cowardly”.
“Belfast cannot be allowed to become the racist capital of the north, especially when so many people from here have been welcomed in so many countries around the world,” said the south Belfast MP.
“These attacks must not be tolerated. People have the right to live in peace, but no one has the right to instil fear and tension in any community.”
The DUP’s Robin Newton said the attacks were “disgraceful”.
“East Belfast is a kind, welcoming place inhabited by kind and welcoming people,” he said.
“It is utterly shameful that the reputation of our community should be tarnished by racist thugs who offer nothing but hatred and bitterness.”