A man had his face “completely slashed” during a mass brawl involving around 50 people at a south west Dublin estate.
The melee, in which at least some people were armed with knives or blades, centred around two families, including one led by a major drug dealer.
It is understood that the mass violence escalated from an initial fight involving just two people at around 8.30am on Sunday, with more and more people gathering over the following hours.
During the violence there was an attempt to hijack a car and a man fleeing rival gang members broke into a local house seeking refuge, but terrifying the owners.
Gardaí dispatched two public order units and an armed support unit to respond to the row, which broke out in the Croftwood area of Cherry Orchard in Ballyfermot.
The units stayed in the area after the situation calmed down in a bid to reassure local people, but sources said that the situation could “flare up again”.
At least three people were hospitalised, but it is not known how many other people were injured and did not attend hospital.
Gardaí stressed that no one involved was co-operating, which was hampering their investigation.
Sources said one man was badly beaten, with one report that his attacker was “dancing on his head” at one stage.
A garda source said this man had his face “completely slashed” in the attack.
Two other people are known to have suffered slash wounds to their arms and body and taken to hospital.
Gardaí are not sure what the cause of the violence was but said it started out small but escalated, indicating that it was not a pre-arranged fight between gangs.
“It started with two in the fight, then four, then six and kept on growing,” said one source, “one family attacking another and it went bananas”.
Sources said one of the individuals beaten up at the start of the fight is a member of a family that is led by one of the most prominent drug dealers in the area.
Gardaí arrested one man after they arrived. This individual had broken into a house to escape members of a rival gang.
“He had hidden and was arrested, for trespass if only to get him to safety,”said one source
Gardaí said the violence, which spanned a number of hours, was “upsetting and traumatic” for locals.
Gardaí have expressed concern at resource levels at the Ballyfermot and Ronanstown stations, particularly given the level of demand for their services.
It is understood that five new gardaí went to Ronanstown last week and four to Ballyfermot. However, one source said it will “take years” to build up staffing levels.
Local Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said: “I am deeply concerned about the violence today in Cherry Orchard. This is a great community which I am very proud to represent. Today’s violence in no way reflects the good work being done by so many residents and community groups.
“We are lucky we are not dealing with many more injuries or even worse.”
He appealed to people to come forward with any information about the attacks
“This violence will only end if political representatives, gardaí and residents work together to tackle it head on,” said Mr Doolan.