updated 11/12/2011 1:21:58 PM ET 2011-11-12T18:21:58

Authorities say vandals torched three cars and scrawled Nazi swastikas and other hate messages on benches in a Jewish neighborhood in New York City, infuriating residents and causing thousands of dollars in damage.

The attack happened early Saturday in Brooklyn's Midwood section. Residents woke up at 5:30 a.m. to find the cars engulfed in flames. Someone spray painted the letters "KKK" on a van, and other messages targeting Jews were on the sidewalk.

The act has brought swift condemnation from city officials. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there's no place for hate in "the freest city in the freest country in the world."

Residents of the neighborhood tell local newspapers that they were outraged. One witness says she saw a group of laughing kids fleeing the scene.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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