GARDAI have warned paramedics not to respond to emergency calls in a deprived suburb without an escort after a gang of masked men riding on horseback rampaged through the area.
A secondary school, a family home, a car and a CCTV camera were all vandalised in the Moyross area of Limerick on Monday night.
Gardai believe that a gang of 12 local men, who wore balaclavas and rampaged through areas of the northside suburb on horseback, was retaliating after 22 horses were seized by authorities at the weekend.
The vast majority of illegally held horses were taken from the Moyross area of the city.
Subsequently, youths attemp- ted to lure uniformed gardai into a trap on Monday night and had left a homemade stinger device in an estate as officers on patrol drove around the area.
At the same time, a gang of men on horseback, armed with sticks and bars, vandalised a home and car in Cliona Park.
Windows were broken with rocks before a CCTV camera in the area was also targeted.
The gang also caused thousands of euros of damage to nearby St Nessan's Community College, where more windows were smashed and a door broken.
Principal Eugene O'Brien described the damage "as mindless".
Armed gardai were drafted into the suburb as a result.
The Irish Independent has learned that, amid fears for their safety, HSE paramedics based in Limerick were informed not to enter Moyross for any call-out unless they have an escort from local gardai.
A HSE spokesman confirmed that they were "advised of a credible threat by gardai" on Monday night.
"Unfortunately, this type of problem occurs from time to time nationally and is not a Limerick or indeed a Moyross phenomenon," the spokesman said.
"What the ambulance service has to do is assess the situation and act on garda advice bearing in mind our duty of care to our personnel.
"On Monday night, we were advised of a credible threat by gardai and controllers advised crews to contact gardai for an escort for any calls to the area.
"We are keeping in contact with gardai and hoping that the situation returns to normal," the spokesman added.
Gardai are examining CCTV footage in the area in a bid to identify the culprits.
It is suspected that the vandalism was orchestrated by two well-known criminals from the area.
More than 100 horses have been seized in Limerick since the beginning of the year. It is illegal to keep horses in the city without a licence.
Armed patrols were continuing in Moyross last night.