Advertisement

Woman and child may have suffered life-changing injuries in Clapham alkaline attack - as manhunt launched for 'dangerous' suspect

A mother and a child hurt in a chemical attack in south London may have suffered life-changing injuries, police searching for a "dangerous" suspect say.

The 31-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter, alongside her other daughter, aged eight, remain in hospital following the attack in Clapham last night, in which a man threw a corrosive substance.

The man attempted to make off from the scene in a car, but collided with another vehicle, and then made off on foot in the direction of Clapham Common.

Police say an alkaline substance was thrown in what has been described by officers as a "targeted attack".

They have described the suspect - who is believed to be known to the woman - as a "dangerous individual" and have said they "urgently" need to find him.

Superintendent Gabriel Cameron, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "The woman, who is aged 31, and her two daughters - aged eight and three - all remain in hospital.

"While none of their conditions are life-threatening, the injuries to the woman and younger girl could be life-changing.

"It may be some time before hospital staff are able to say how serious that might be."

About the suspect, he added: "While this appears a targeted attack, he is a dangerous individual and we urgently need to find him.

"We will release more information about him as soon as we can."

Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, also described the incident as "ghastly" and said a "live manhunt" was underway.

"It is understanding that it is frightening. Fortunately, attacks using acid and chemicals are exceedingly rare," he told BBC Radio London.

He also praised the bravery of his officers who attended the incident, as well as the witnesses who intervened.

A total of 12 people were hurt during the incident, including five police officers who were injured as they responded.

Three women - two in their 30s and one in her 50s - were also injured when they came to the aid of the woman and her two children.

They have all been discharged from hospital with minor burns injuries.

A man in his 50s who also helped declined hospital treatment for minor injuries he suffered.

It comes after footage emerged of the attack, which took place on Lessar Avenue shortly before 7.30pm on Wednesday.

The CCTV footage shows a man running around a car before getting into the driver's seat, with a woman and child in front of the vehicle holding their hands to their faces.

In the video, a car is driven at the woman and strikes her, before a man stops the vehicle and gets out. He opens the back door and appears to remove a child, before violently throwing them to the ground.

The video also appears to show people from neighbouring properties leaving their homes to chase the man down the road.

Read more from Sky News:
Man, 44, charged with murder over Bristol teen stabbings
Brand says 'appalling' rape allegations 'very hurtful'

'It was all so traumatising'

Eyewitnesses, meanwhile, have described what they saw.

One witness, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sky News: "There was a man in a white car with two children. It looked like he tried to run over a woman. They had been fighting.

"One girl in the back had her hand on the window - you can see the mark on the car.

"He grabbed one of the two children and violently grabbed them and slammed them on the floor.

"The lady then shouted: 'My eyes! My eyes! Call the police, my eyes!'

"Then I saw him run off. It was all so traumatising."

Another witness described how he tried to wash the chemical from the woman's face.

"It was horrific," he told Sky News. "First a man grabbed his kid - a girl aged two or three from a white car. He threw her onto the floor - twice. It was the worst thing I've ever seen.

"The man then threw something at the woman. She was screaming: 'My eyes! My eyes!'

"I then ran into my house, grabbed a water bottle and threw water on her eyes. Her lips were black. Her skin looked burnt.

"I then chased the man halfway down the street. I was wearing my slippers so didn't get very far."

Another resident, who lives near to the scene of the incident, described the incident as "horrific, absolutely horrific".

"It is unbelievable that someone would do that to other people."

Constituency MP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, the Labour MP for Streatham, said people were "shocked and deeply saddened" by the incident.

"Our thoughts, prayers and concerns are with all [of those injured]," she said.

"This is a horrible and quite specific attack. And we hope with all of the information that the police know about this individual [the suspect] they will catch him soon."

"We want to reassure everyone there are no issues at present, and we do not believe there will be any further attacks and people are safe in this area."

The Belvedere Hotel, located close to where the attack took place, said staff were "providing assistance to the guests affected" and had "sought to reassure other hotel guests as to their safety and wellbeing".