East London residents have expressed shock and alarm following a spate of “gruesome” acid attacks in the area which saw five people doused by two men on mopeds during a 90-minute spree.
People living close to the incidents, which took place in Hackney, Shoreditch, Stoke Newington and Islington, said they were alarmed that such attacks could happen in their “peaceful” neighbourhoods and called for action to be taken to prevent them.
All victims were taken to hospital after being attacked during the rampage on Thursday night, with one left with “life-changing” injuries after being doused on Cazenove Road in Stoke Newington, according to the Metropolitan Police.
Police said the assaults appeared to be linked, with two involving victims having their mopeds taken. A male teenager has been arrested on suspicious of grievous bodily harm and robbery.
Sahar Saarvari, a mother of two young children living on Cazenove Road, just metres away from where the scene of the third incident, said she heard the commotion from inside her house and now felt afraid living in the area.
“Stuff like this doesn't really happen in this area. I’ve lived on this street for 11 years and it’s really quiet,” Ms Saarvari told The Independent.
“I’m scared now. I have two kids aged nine and six who go to school on the street. There’s a mosque just up the road.”
Alex Monet, who lives on the same street just opposite the corner where the attack took place, said: “The attack itself is gruesome, but the fact that it happened here is very surprising. It’s a very quiet street with a few schools and different temples.
“People seem to live happily among each other. I would never think that such weapons would be used to carry out actions like this around here. Most people mind their own business and it’s a very family-oriented area. The biggest threat is to be blocked by two prams on the sidewalk.”
A Muslim father living close by, who did not want to be named, said “I’m fearful now. It’s a nice residential area, you don’t get stuff like that going on around here.
“My kids go to a primary school on this road. My wife just told me to be careful when I left the house. It’s a little bit scary. You hear about the acid attacks linked to hate crime. It looks like these ones aren’t, but it’s very worrying.”
A mother-of-two who has lived in Stoke Newington for eight years and was taking her daughter to school the morning after the attack said: “I’m shocked. It’s just horrific. They need to pass a law preventing this from happening.
“This is such a diverse area, maybe we need more police on the streets. There are lots of kids around here and loads of schools. They need to do more to protect our children."
The spate of acid attacks comes just weeks after a man threw acid in the faces of an aspiring model and her cousin through the windows of a car in Newham, east London, in an attack that is being classed as a hate crime.
Resham Khan, 21, and Jameel Muhktar, 37, were left with life-changing neck and face injuries when acid was thrown at them as they waited at traffic lights in east London on Ms Khan’s birthday last month.
Following the incidents on Thursday night, Labour MP for East Ham Stephen Timms has called for carrying acid to be made a crime and urged that stop-and-search procedures should be reviewed in light of the attacks.
Theresa May meanwhile hinted at the introduction of new legislation to combat a rise in acid attacks, saying the Government is working with police to see what more can be done to prevent such "horrific" attacks from happening.
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