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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Teenage boys held over string of acid attacks

Moped riders targeted during 90-minute rampage

Emergency crews respond to the string of acid attacks in London. Sarah Cobbold/REUTERS
Emergency crews respond to the string of acid attacks in London. Sarah Cobbold/REUTERS

Two teenage boys have been arrested by police investigating a string of acid attacks on moped riders across London within 90 minutes.

One of the victims suffered life-changing injuries in the attacks on Thursday night carried out by two people riding around north London on a single moped. The apparent motive was to steal other riders’ mopeds.

The attacks followed a sharp uptick in the use of acid in violent attacks, with gangs reputedly using corrosive liquid as an alternative to carrying blades following a police crackdown on knife crime.

The two boys, aged 15 and 16, were arrested on Friday on suspicion of robbery and grievous bodily harm, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. Two of the victims were confirmed as being food delivery drivers.

The attacks first started at 10.25pm on Thursday when two male moped riders threw a corrosive substance into the face of a 32-year-old man and fled with his moped. A witness saw police throwing bottles of water over the first victim to try to wash away the burning liquid.

While the first victim was being treated, the pair are believed to have carried out four more attacks just 15-25 minutes apart. The fourth attack left a 24-year-old with life changing injuries, according to police.

“I heard the sound of water, like a glass of water come onto my face,” one of the victims, delivery driver Jabed Hussain, told Sky News. “Then I started screaming. I felt like somebody put fire on my face, on the left-hand side."

The attacks come just days after a man appeared in court accused of throwing acid at aspiring model Resham Khan and her cousin Jameel Muhktar, 37, as they celebrated her 21st birthday.

The number of crimes that that used corrosive fluids had increased from 261 in 2015 to 454 last year, according to figures obtained by the BBC.

Theresa May's spokeswoman said Friday that officials were working with police to see what more could be done to stop the use of acid as a weapon and victims groups called for tougher jail sentences for those behind the attacks.