These are the horrific injuries inflicted on a canoeist on a quiet evening on the River Kennet when a harmless day out turned into a bloodbath.

The 29-year-old computer technician, who does not wish to be named, was canoeing along the River Kennet close to Fobney Water Treatment Works at 7pm on Tuesday when he came under fire from yobs.

Three thugs began shouting insults and hurling missiles and as he turned to confront them, a rock struck him in the face, splitting his nose open.

He said: 'I was really angry, you are quite helpless when you are in a boat because you can"t get out quickly and can"t get over to the bank quickly because you are paddling.'

He added: 'When they are throwing little things you pass them off as kids but when they are throwing bigger things and attacking you it invades your space and it"s terrifying. It"s a form of water terrorism.'

His girlfriend, who was travelling in the boat with him but was unharmed, took him to the Royal Berkshire Hospital where nurses patched up the gaping hole with steri strips.

Ironically, the attack came only days after Reading"s Water Fest - an event celebrating the pleasures of the town"s waterways.

The Katesgrove couple have only recently taken to the water for the summer and say it is already the second time they have been targeted.

He added: 'A lot of kids are crossing the line between being rowdy and being physically violent. I think it"s appalling that good people like us are being victimised and attacked by groups of children who should be disciplined.'

The youths, who made their escape along the nearby canal bank in the direction of Basingstoke Road, were in their early teens with short hair and wearing T-shirts and shorts.

Police spokesman David Paul confirmed that officers were investigating the incident. They are yet to make any arrests and are appealing for witnesses.

It follows an incident last week when youths threw missiles at a pleasure boat on the River Thames near Caversham Bridge.

Police are calling for witnesses and urge anyone who saw anything to get in touch via 08458 505 505 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.