A GROUP of horrified teenagers were chased and attacked with sticks and bottles because of how they were dressed.

The three boys and one girl, all 15, were attired in "gothic" or "mosher" style, with black clothing, jeans and jewellery, when they were set upon by a group of up to 12 youths just before 6pm on Saturday.

Police said the attack, in Burnley, could have been much more serious if a passer-by had not stepped in to save the them.

And he said it was even more sickening as it came just two months after the death of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was beaten to death in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, because of her gothic dress style.

The teenagers involved in the latest incident were first chased in Leyland Road, but the attack happened in Holcombe Drive, near Turf Moor.

Two of the victims were taken to hospital, but were released later the same evening.

Three of the victims suffered cuts and bruising, and one boy's arm has been so badly battered it has been put in a sling.

Detectives said they were treating the incident very seriously because of the vicious nature of the attack.

Det Insp Derek Jones, of Burnley police, said: "They are nice, intelligent kids who were all very frightened by what happened to them.

"They were attacked with sticks and bottles and we believe that the attack was stopped by a passer-by.

"It could have been far more serious otherwise and that's why we have had a number of detectives working on it.

"They could have ended up with very serious injuries."

He said the attack was similar to that on Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Rob Maltby, in August, because once again the teens had done nothing to provoke the violence and were targeted only because of their appearance.

Det Inp Jones said: "I honestly believe these people had done nothing more than walk down the street minding their own business, and just because they look different to the general population of that area they have been set upon.

"I believe these people have been targeted because of the way they dressed and the way they looked.

"We don't often get incidents like this in Burnley - most assaults are related to drinking.

"Obviously there are always minor skirmishes between kids, but fortunately this kind of thing isn't too common, and we want to keep it that way.

"We won't tolerate attacks on anyone, and we are appealing to anyone who might have seen what happened to come forward and let us know."

Police made house-to-house inquiries in Leyland Road and Holcombe Drive yesterday and searched the area.

It is believed the youths behind the attack were white.

The attack left moshers at the nearby bus station shocked yesterday.

One said: "We heard about what happened in Bacup and that has frightened us all.

"We have all had comments and things like that but it is frightening that this has now happened in Burnley."

Anyone with information about the incident has been asked to call Burnley CID on 01282 472144, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.