A SECURITY guard has been stabbed and his colleague bludgeoned with a hammer in a brutal attack during Runcorn's canal boat festival.
The duo were set on by two men - believed to be brothers - as they returned to their security hut in the early hours of Saturday morning after patrolling the waterways behind The Brindley arts centre.
The armed thugs struggled with the guards before stabbing one, aged 31, in the calf, and striking the 45-year-old in the ribs with a hammer.
At one stage a knife was held to one of the victim's throats, as the men tried to force their way into the hut where a male and female security guard were inside.
It is thought the culprits were hunting for cash or mobile phones when they struck at about 4.10am though they left with nothing.
Although no one was seriously injured, the 31-year-old was treated with seven stitches at Warrington Hospital while the 45-year-old 'miraculously' escaped with only bruising.
Detective Constable Sven Talbot, of Halton CID, said: 'This was an unprovoked attack which is being taken seriously.
'They just seemed to be picking a fight with them for no reason, saying things to try to provoke them, resulting in one of the men getting stabbed in the back of his right calf.'
Police have launched an appeal for witnesses, describing the first man as stockily built with a chubby face and wearing a light-coloured grey hooded sweatshirt, with dark, three-quarter length shorts.
The second man is similarly described as 25-30-years-old, but he is of slim build with olive-coloured skin.
The dual-attack has shocked staff at Special Events Security, which has provided cover in the past for the Halton Show and other large-scale events across Runcorn and Widnes.
Manager Mike Sandland said although his staff are fully-trained to manage a crowd dis-aster, this type of incident is 'very rare', leaving the men virtually defenceless.
'A lot of the time our security guards are faced with difficult situations, but it's not often they are confronted with a hammer and knife - that's the difference, they didn't have time to act.'
In a joint statement issued on behalf of Halton Borough Council and the Chester and District Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, a spokeswoman said: 'We are very pleased to confirm that the two men were discharged from hospital after receiving treatment.'
If anyone has any information about the incident they should contact DC Sven Talbot on 01244 350000.