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Police in Calgary say stabbing attacks on three homeless people days before Christmas were motivated by hate.

The attacks within eight minutes of each other on Dec. 21 were random and close to each other in the downtown core.

Each victim had to be taken to hospital with serious injuries after being sprayed with a fire extinguisher before being stabbed.

Police previously said a search two days later discovered clothing that matched the description of the suspects, a number of knives, nylon cable ties, bear spray, brass knuckles, small quantities of drugs, ammunition and a sawed-off .22-calibre rifle.

Asher Atter and Jaymes Richardson face several charges, including aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

Police say declaring a crime to be hate-motivated won’t result in additional charges, but can be considered during sentencing.

“We believe the victims were attacked because of their socio-economic status. They were targeted because they were experiencing homelessness and other vulnerabilities,” Acting Sergeant Matt Messenger of the hate crime and extremism unit said in a release Wednesday.

“We will not tolerate violence against people experiencing vulnerabilities. They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and acquaintances. They deserve to feel safe,” added Staff Sgt. Kurt Jacobs from the general investigations unit.

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