Police are appealing for witnesses following five incidents in South Belfast last night during which three young women sustained stab wounds and two other women were assaulted.

At a press facility earlier today at Musgrave Police Station Belfast area co-ordinator Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said; “The first stabbing incident occurred at approximately 8.10pm on Ormeau Avenue. The second occurred at 8.45pm on Donegall Square West and the third occurred at approximately 9.30pm on University Road.

“The three women were all taken to hospital for treatment to their injuries which are not believed to be life threatening.

“A fourth incident was reported to police where a female was punched in the neck on the Lisburn Road near Dunluce Avenue at around 9pm and we believe this to have been carried out by the same man.

“A fifth incident was reported this morning whereby a female was punched to the head on the Dublin Road at around 8.55pm yesterday evening by a male on a bicycle and we believe this report may be linked to the other four incidents.

“All five women are aged between 19 and 22.

“The injuries sustained were minor and not life threatening however this does not take away from the seriousness of these incidents. These were frightening random attacks for these young women but thankfully incidents like this are extremely rare.  I want to reassure the community that officers will be carrying out additional patrols across the city centre and doing everything we can to arrest this man. Detectives are currently conducting extensive CCTV enquiries throughout the relevant areas across the city and would appeal to any drivers who were in these areas at these times to review dash cam footage, and for any business owners in the relevant areas to review their CCTV.

“The man is described as wearing dark clothing, possibly wearing a hooded top, cycling a  mountain bike which may have a light coloured frame and reflectors on the spokes. We believe the man may have been wearing a black mask.

“I would encourage anyone who may have witnessed any of these incidents or anyone who was in any of these areas that may have dash-cam footage to contact police at Lisburn Road on the non-emergency number 101 or submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/.   You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/