A gang of 10 teenagers brutally attacked two men leaving them both severely injured in a horrific homophobic attack.

The gang, believed to be boys and girls aged between 16 and 17, attacked two men in an unprovoked encounter in a Waitrose car park in the early hours of last Sunday (August 8).

Two men, aged 22 and 25-year-old, were severely beaten in a ruthless gang up in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.

The hooded youths first hurled homophobic insults towards the pair before becoming physically violent.

The 22-year-old man was knocked unconscious in the car park and left with fractures across his cheek, eye socket and nose.

The older of the pair was also brutally injured with a split eyebrow and suffered cuts, bruising to his face as well as fractures to his jaw and hand.

Inspector Gary Bangs, from Hertfordshire police’s East Herts local crime unit, issued a statement condemning the suspected homophobic crime: “This despicable attack was completely unprovoked and left both men with serious injuries.

“They are being supported by specially trained hate crime officers at what is understandably a very difficult time.”

nspector Bangs added: “Did you see a large group of people in the area around the time stated? Any information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, could greatly assist our enquiries.

A police spokeswoman added: “Hertfordshire Constabulary is determined to ensure that LGBTQ+ communities feel comfortable to approach the force should they ever need to and build confidence within them that they will be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity.

“As part of this, the constabulary has LGBT+ liaison officers who are based all over the county and have been specially trained to support people from LGBT+ communities.”

Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes have shot up with figures more than doubling between 2015 and 2018.

The rate of LGBTQ+ hate crime, including offences such as harassment, assault and stalking, has increased by 144 per cent in those four years.

Related: Man brutally attacks three people on NYC Subway in suspected homophobic hate crime