London acid attacks: 5 victims assaulted in 70 minutes

Photo courtesy MGN Image

By Euan McKirdy

(CNN) -- London police are appealing for witnesses and information after suspects riding on a moped in east London threw acid on individuals in five separate attacks.

Police are treating all five incidents, which took place within around 70 minutes, as linked. Four of the attacks happened in the London borough of Hackey, and one other in Islington.

One suspect, described as a male in his teens has been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and robbery. He is currently in custody at an east London police station.

In at least one of the attacks, one victim's facial injuries are described as "life changing." Three of the victims' injuries are "not considered life threatening or life changing."

All five victims were taken to hospital, and police are awaiting an update on the condition of one other victim.

How the attacks unfolded

10:25 p.m.: Man suffers facial injury, Hackney Road

10:49 p.m.: Man sprayed in face, Highbury Corner

11:05 p.m.: Man attacked on Shoreditch High Street

11:18 p.m.: Man suffers 'life-changing' injury, Cazenove Road

11:37 p.m.: Man sprayed in face, Chatsworth Road

Was motive robbery?

In at least two of the five incidents, the suspects stole the victims' mopeds. One of the other victims also reported a robbery.

In the first and fourth attacks, the victims reported being on their vehicles when a second moped carrying two male riders pulled up next to them. A corrosive substance was thrown in the victims' faces.

The attackers then split up, one riding the original moped and the other taking the victim's bike.

The inquiry is ongoing, a statement from the Met said.

Attacks on the rise

According to a report released by the Metropolitan Police Service in March, acid attacks are on the rise in London. In 2014, there were 166 filed incidents, rising to 261 in 2015, and 454 in 2016.

Corrosive acids are still quite easy to purchase from local, everyday stores around the UK.

Following one such attack in June, on 21-year-old aspiring model Resham Khan and her cousin Jameel Muhktar, a petition on demanding that the UK Parliament require individuals purchasing acid to hold a special license now holds almost 370,000 signatures.

CNN's Alla Eshchenko and journalist Zoha Qamar contributed to this report.


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