Two passengers were hurt when vandals hurled firebombs at a train in Brighton last night.

One petrol-filled bottle smashed a carriage window and glass exploded over passengers.A piece of the bottle hit a 57-year-old man from Germany and the second victim, a man from Eastleigh in Hampshire, suffered from the effects of breathing in smoke as fire broke out.

Rail staff and passengers grabbed fire extinguishers to douse the flames. The German national was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, and treated for a head wound and shock. The other man was treated at the scene.

Police and firefighters were called to Moulsecoomb station, off Lewes Road, just after 8.15pm. Vandals hurled three bombs at the train as it pulled into the station. One hit the roof of the train, a second exploded under a carriage and the third hit a window. Police searched the area but there was no sign of the culprits, thought to be teenagers.

The train was driven to Lewes station, where forensics staff and firefighters were called in to examine the damage. The 7.56pm service had been en route from Hove to Eastbourne when it came under attack. British Transport Police said the consequences could have been disastrous.

Sgt Colin Markham said: "We are treating this as a very serious incident. Throwing what we believe to be petrol bombs is so dangerous and a major criminal act."

Pieces of the bottles have been sent for forensic examination and the train is now in a siding at Brighton awaiting repairs. British Transport Police officers today were scouring the line for evidence.

Insp Mick Morriss said there were between 30 and 50 people on the train. He said: "We are anxious to trace all people on board. It is possible they may have seen who was responsible, or something suspicious near the track."

Brighton Pavilion MP David Lepper said many acts of vandalism might be deterred if smaller stations such as Moulsecoomb were manned.

Connex South Central has offered a £1,000 reward to catch the vandals. Anyone with information is asked to call the British Transport Police hotline on 0171 387 0354, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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