A mass acid attack has left several people injured in an area around a shopping center in Stratford, east London, police say. A “group of males” reportedly sprayed “what is believed to be a noxious substance,” injuring at least six people, a Metropolitan Police spokesman told The Independent.
The spokesman also said that police have placed in custody one person accused of causing grievous bodily harm. According to witnesses, an argument broke out among a group of people in the Stratford Centre, a smaller shopping mall than its sprawling neighbor, the Westfield Centre.
One witness, who is a Burger King assistant manager, said he saw a victim and his friend, a local homeless man, running into the fast food outlet’s bathroom “to wash acid off his face.”
“There were cuts around his eyes and he was trying to chuck water into them,” he said.
Zak Abdi, another witness told the Mirror Online that he saw somebody throwing a substance at a group of men “who looked like they were on their way to a club.”
“It didn’t hit just one person, it hit a crowd of people. One guy had been hit in the face, he kept shouting ‘I can’t see, I can’t see, I can’t see.”
“I think he has lost his vision. He kept shouting, it was a scary moment for everyone.”
Other eyewitnesses reported seeing a group of males roaming in and around the center while choosing their victims who were later treated in Stratford rail center.
According to a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police, the incident was not being treated as a terror attack.
There has been a marked rise in acid attacks in London, with some experts saying criminal gangs may be switching from carrying knives to acid because it could lower the risk of prosecution.
Five people were attacked with acid in the space of just 90 minutes on the night of July 13. In June, an acid attack left two Muslim cousins seriously injured in east London.