Two teenage boys have been brutally assaulted in Canterbury and police are investigating whether they were attacked for delivering Christian leaflets door-to-door.
According to local news reports the pair, aged 17 and 18, were delivering leaflets in Starle Close on Monday evening when they were attacked by three men.
The 17-year-old was assaulted with a knife and slashed on the chest and arm. He is due to undergo surgery.
His friend, 18, suffered a broken arm after being hit with a piece of wood. The teenage victims are both Afghans.
The three attackers fled in the direction of Sturry Road. They are described as white, with two of them wearing dark clothing and one wearing a lighter coloured jacket.
Officers say they are investigating whether the boys were attacked because they were delivering Christian flyers.
Kent police have appealed for anyone with information to contact detectives on 01227 762055 quoting reference 23-1348 or Kent Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Det Sgt Jon Smith said: “We are waiting to talk in detail to the two young men.
“It is crucial that anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area on Monday evening or knows anything about the circumstances of the attack to contact us.
“They can provide that information anonymously.”
In October a volunteer church worker was left fighting for his life after being stabbed at a church event aimed at keeping teenagers away from crime.
The man, in his 40s, was knifed repeatedly when he confronted a gang of rowdy youths outside a meeting for young Christians in Deptford, south east London. He is now recovering from his injuries.
In March a Christian minister was attacked in London by three men who ripped off his cross, stole his Bible and threatened to break his legs.
The case was investigated by the Metropolitan Police who treated it as a “faith hate” assault. They were hunting three Asian men.
Some 12 per cent of clergy have been violently attacked, according to one academic study. An initiative linked to ecclesiastical insurance groups has warned ministers to avoid wearing their dog collars when alone because wearing one may increase the risk of violent attack.
In September last year the Archbishop of York spoke of community-based church work and said the church “does not drive in to places of strife in the morning and leave before the lights go down.”