A teenager has been arrested after multiple victims were sprayed with acid around a busy shopping mall in east London on Saturday night.
Officers were called to the scene of the attacks at the Stratford Centre, near the Olympic Park, where three of the victims needed hospital treatment after they were hit by a “noxious substance”.
Police in said six people were injured in a number of locations during an “altercation” involving “group of males” who the force believes to be linked to gang activities in the area.
Another case of an acid attck at stratford 😧😧😧 pic.twitter.com/yOXIpVOZhT
— OFFICIALZAKAVELI💯 (@OfficialZakveli) September 23, 2017
Shocked onlookers reported scenes of panic following the incident, which was initially feared to be a series of random attacks, as victims cried out in pain while others rushed to wash the substance from their skin.
Witness Imran Tahir Rizvi said he saw a young male victim screaming in pain as his friends shouted about an “acid attack”.
“[They were] screaming and shouting for help as he was feeling a burning sensation on his skin,” he told the Press Association.
“His fellows were shouting at police for something. Initially, people thought like it was a fight. But the guys [with] the victim started shouting ‘it is an acid attack, he is burning’.”
An assistant manager at Burger King who gave his name as Hossen, reported seeing a victim and his friend run into the fast food outlet bathroom “to wash acid off his face”.
“There were cuts around his eyes and he was trying to chuck water into them,” he said.
— … (@kushman____) September 23, 2017
Several people uploaded footage of the incident’s aftermath on social media, where images show panicked commuters fleeing the scene, while footage shows police and security officers swarming around the railway station.
A 15-year-old was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm in connection with the attack, which police said was not being treated as terror-related, and are searching for others.
Chief Superintendent Ade Adelekan, Newham borough commander, said: “I would like to be very clear concerning this incident.
“What initially may have been perceived as a number of random attacks has, on closer inspection, been found to be one incident involving two groups of males.”
— ㅤㅤㅤㅤ (@___Wazza) September 23, 2017
East London has been the scene of other such attacks, such as in July when two teenagers were arrested after carrying out five acid attacks in the space of little over an hour, in some cases blinding victims riding mopeds before stealing the vehicle.
Earlier this year Breitbart London reported how the UK is now the acid capital of the world, with the number of assaults rising 74 per cent — from 261 to 454 — between 2015 and 2016.
With 1,800 assaults using corrosive liquid having taken place in London alone since 2010, the UK now suffers the “highest number of acid attacks per head”, according to charity Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI).