Shocking footage shows saboteur Andy Kane with blood streaming down his face after violence flared during the hunt protest in South Molton, north Devon
An animal rights activist was left with blood streaming down his face after being attacked by a masked man when a peaceful hunt protest turned violent.
The saboteurs were staging a peaceful protest against The Cheldon Buckhounds, who were out with their hounds in South Molton, north Devon, say campaigners.
Horrifying footage apparently shows the moment Andy Kane, of the Hunts Saboteur Association, clashed with several men wearing balaclavas.
In the video, a man in a motorcycle helmet wrestles Andy, 53, to the ground, grappling for a few seconds before others arrive and begin raining punches.
Violence flared when the saboteurs interrupted the activity by distracting the hounds, according to the animal rights activists.
Andy claims the man in the helmet headbutted him in the face before he was targeted by a gang who kicked and punched him as he lay on the ground.
With blood trickling down his face, Andy, wearing camouflage gear, is seen sitting on the ground immediately after the incident.
He says he was later treated in Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for a cut head and bruised ribs.
Speaking to Mirror.co.uk, he told how the attack escalated during a day of heated clashes in the Devon countryside.
He said: “We were staging a peaceful protest and trying to disrupt the dogs when these thugs in balaclavas suddenly came from nowhere.
“The one who was wearing a motorbike helmet grabbed me and headbutted me to the ground.
“Then the rest of the gang started kicking and punching me while I was on the ground.
“The assault lasted no more than two minutes, but the intimidation went on for a good 15 to 20 minutes longer.
“I was quite badly beaten - you can see from the pictures what a state I was in.
“It was a really frightening experience. We’re just peaceful protesters who care about the welfare of animals. It’s just not on.”
Another protester, in his 20s, was also reportedly attacked during the incident and suffered facial injuries, including a suspected fractured skull and eye socket.
The victim, who did not want to be named, claims he sustained the injuries as he tried to stop the gang from attacking a fellow protesters.
The activist, from Plymouth, said: “We were followed and intimidated by at least seven men in masks throughout the day.
“But just as the hounds were released, the men got closer and closer to our group.
“Once the violence erupted, I tried to step in to pull them off one of the members of our group.
“But as I dragged one of the men away, the momentum made me fall over, and I was also attacked in the aftermath.
“I now need an operation to restore my skull after tests found it had been fractured.”
The video was uploaded to the Bristol Hunt Saboteurs’ YouTube channel , one of several splinter groups that took part in the protest.
Devon and Cornwall Police have now launched an investigation into the incident, which happened at around 3.45pm on Bank Holiday Monday.
A spokesman said: “Police attended Whitfeild Lane, north of Brayford following reports of an altercation between hunt supporters and hunt saboteurs in the area, at around 3.45pm on Monday May 30.
“One victim, a man in his late 20s from Plymouth has suffered facial injuries including a suspected fractured eye socket.
“We believe that a number of people were present who have yet to have speak to us.
“We ask that if you were in the area or witnessed the altercation, that you contact the police as you may hold information vital to the investigation.
It is the latest violent altercation involving animal rights activists during hunts
In January this year, footage emerged showing a group of hooded hunt saboteurs armed with iron bars attacking a huntsman.
And in March, another shocking video showed hunt saboteurs being driven at by men in balaclavas on quad bikes who were threatening to shoot them.
No one from The Cheldon Buckhounds could be contacted for comment.
Anyone with information on the incident can contact [email protected] , or call 101 quoting crime number CR/035671/16.