Five-year-old girl becomes London's latest gun victim

A five-year-old girl was in a critical condition last night after being caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting.

The child, thought to be Thusha Kamaleswaran, was visiting relatives with her mother when she was hit in the chest with a bullet, while another innocent bystander, a 35-year-old man, was shot in the head.

Last night detectives from Scotland Yard's Operation Trident appealed for other gang members to turn in the culprits as the victims' families kept a vigil in hospital.

The incident happened just after 9pm on Tuesday night when three youths on bicycles chased two others into a south London street.

The pursued ran into Stockwell Food and Wine shop. The three others followed them to the door before firing randomly inside, hitting the schoolgirl in front of her mother. A man, who lived upstairs and helped out in the shop, was also shot.

"I looked in and saw a lot of blood on the floor but I didn't want to look at what had happened, and I was very scared," said Mareh Silva, 34, who was leaving the convenience store as the attackers dropped their bicycles outside. She said they were masked with black scarves and balaclavas but all seemed to be black teenagers, aged between 14 and 17.

The attack happened in an area plagued with gun crime. It took place just hours before the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Connect – a major crackdown on violence driven by gang culture in the borough, Lambeth, along with six others across London. Twenty one men and one woman were arrested in dawn raids as 41 addresses were searched across the capital.

Last night the small girl, who was said to be related to the owners of the shop, and the man, who was described as a "polite, peaceful, smiley chap", were in a critical but stable condition in hospital. Both are of Sri Lankan origin.

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Boughton, the officer leading the investigation, said the two victims "could have died and may still do".

He urged the two intended targets to come forward with information, adding: "They are an important part in helping us understand exactly what was happening and should be able to direct us to those responsible."

He continued: "This is a terrible incident where an innocent child has been seriously injured... These criminals have seriously injured two innocent bystanders and must face the consequences of their actions."

Yesterday the area was cordoned off as forensics officers searched for clues inside the shop, while CCTV from the area was being examined. Det Ch Insp Boughton said he believed three or four shots were fired before the three youths cycled off, with the two others running back in the same direction.

Locals speculated last night that violence had flared between rival gangs from Stockwell Gardens and the Stockwell Park Estate. A youth worker said: "It's literally just fights and retaliation. It's nothing to do with drugs."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'