A man has been attacked by a masked gang armed with a bat and a knife in what is being treated as a sectarian hate crime in Ballymena.

The victim was out walking in the Sentry Hill area of the Co Antrim town when the attack happened in broad daylight, at about 11.30am on Tuesday.

PSNI Detective Sergeant Lenaghan said: “The man was punched and struck, possibly with a bat, while one of the assailants brandished a knife.

“Thankfully, he managed to struggle free and made his way to safety.”

We are treating this as a sectarian-motivated hate crime – hate crimes have no place in today’s society and will simply not be tolerated.

PSNI Detective Sergeant Lenaghan

The victim was also subjected to verbal sectarian abuse during the assault.

“While this man managed to escape with minor physical injuries, such as bruising and cuts, we could have been looking at a very different picture,” DS Lenaghan said.

“He has, understandably, been left badly shaken by a dreadful ordeal.”

Sentry Hill is a popular area with walkers and police are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious, or who has any information about the attack, to contact them on 101.