UK police arrest four men after three-year-old boy suffers severe burns from ‘acid attack’
Police suspect the toddler was deliberately targeted and lawmakers say they are considering stiffer punishment for assaults with corrosive liquids, which are on the rise in Britain
Brtish police have arrested three more suspects in connection with an apparent acid attack on a three-year-old boy who suffered severe burns.
West Mercia Police said on Monday that three men, ages 22, 25 and 26, are being questioned in London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm.
A 39-year-old suspect was arrested earlier. The four men have not been identified or charged.
West Mercia police Chief Superintendent Mark Travis said police were working to identify the substance that burned the child.
The attack happened at a shopping centre on Saturday afternoon in the western English city of Worcester. Police said the boy was deliberately targeted.
“At this time we are treating this as a deliberate attack,” Travis said in a statement. “The incident will rightly shock the local community, and I would like to reassure local people that we are carrying out a thorough investigation.”
He was released from hospital on Sunday but officials warned that the long-term health implications of the attack are not clear.
British police have reported seeing an increase in acid attacks during the last year, but it is very rare for a victim to be so young. Some attacks are related to gang fights or late-night bar confrontations.
Most of the attacks have happened in London, but they have been reported in many parts of Britain.
A London teenager was given a prison sentence of more than 10 years this year after being convicted of spraying acid into the faces of moped drivers so he could steal their mopeds.
Police also report that innocuous liquids sometimes are thrown into the face of mugging targets to make them think they have been hit with a corrosive substance, panic and give up their valuables more easily.
Robin Walker, the Worcester representative in parliament, said lawmakers are considering tougher sentences for people convicted of any type of intentional assault with acid.
He described what happened to the three-year-old boy as “horrific”.