February 26, 2024

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Clapham attack: Mother and girls among nine hit by 'corrosive substance'

Clapham attack: Mother and girls among nine hit by 'corrosive substance'
  • Written by Thomas Mackintosh, Ellie Price, Ragini Vaidyanathan and Emily Atkinson
  • BBC News

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Police cordoned off an area on Lessar Street near Clapham Common in south London

Witnesses have described the “horrific” scene after a mother and her two daughters were doused with a “corrosive substance” in their car in south London.

The family, three police officers and two others who tried to help were taken to hospital after the attack in Clapham on Wednesday.

A witness told the BBC that the mother cried: “I can't see, I can't see” as he tried to help. “It was absolutely horrific,” he added.

Police are searching for the suspect.

The Metropolitan Police said emergency services were called to Leesar Street, near Clapham Common, at 19:25 GMT on Wednesday evening after reports of an attack with a suspected corrosive substance.

The force added that tests are continuing to determine the substance in question.

As the sun rose over Clapham Common, a white car was pulled into a lorry and removed from the street.

Earlier in the night, police forensic teams examined the car, which was stopped diagonally across the tree-lined street.

A couple who live on Lesar Street said they ran into the street after hearing a scream for help and then the sound of a car crash.

A man who did not want to reveal his name said, “We went out and saw this man. He took a girl out of the car and threw her to the ground twice.”

“I chased him down the middle of the road, but I was wearing flip flops, so I didn't get very far.

“When I came back, I saw the woman who had been attacked… so I ran inside to get some water and splashed her with water.”

He described seeing what appeared to be serious burns on her face.

The witness's partner, who suffered less serious burns to her face, arm and lips after caring for one of the children involved, was taken to hospital but was later discharged.

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A man was seen fleeing the scene and a police helicopter was used on Wednesday evening to search for him.

She was one of eight people taken to hospital, five to a major trauma center, and three to a local hospital.

The London Ambulance Service said that a ninth person had left the scene.

The Metropolitan Police said three officers suffered injuries believed to be minor. Police did not confirm the extent of the victims' injuries.

Labor MP for Streatham Bill Ribeiro-Addy told BBC Radio London that the incident was a “huge shock to those who live in the area”.

“We ask people to come forward if they have any information,” she added.

As the search for the attacker began, residents said they heard the buzzing of helicopters throughout the night.

The nature of the attack angered residents. “How can people do this kind of thing?” A neighbor asked.

The London Fire Brigade confirmed that two crews from Clapham and Battersea fire stations attended the scene to help provide emergency care to the mother and her two children.

She added, “The crews also used specialized equipment to detect a corrosive substance believed to have been used in the accident.”

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