LONDON – Five linked acid attacks in quick succession by men on mopeds in London left several people injured, British police said Friday. They are the latest in a spate of assaults with corrosive liquids that have alarmed residents and politicians.
The Metropolitan Police force said two teenagers have been arrested in connection with the 90-minute rampage which began late Thursday. Two men on a moped tossed a noxious substance into the face of a 32-year-old moped driver, then jumped on his vehicle and drove away.
The pattern was repeated across a swath of east London. All the victims were attacked while riding mopeds. At least one, a man in his 20s, was left with life-changing injuries, police said.
A 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy were arrested on suspicion of robbery and grievous bodily harm. One was detained near the scene of an attack, the other at an address in east London on Friday.
London police say the number of reported attacks with corrosive liquids rose from 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016. Some appear related to gang activity or the theft of cars and motorbikes.
The latest assaults come after several other high-profile attacks, including one in which a man is accused of throwing acid at an aspiring model and her cousin as they sat in their car. A 25-year-old man has been charged in that case.
In April, acid was sprayed at a crowded east London club night, leaving two revelers partially blinded and others disfigured. A man has been charged and is awaiting trial.
The spike in attacks has prompted some lawmakers to call for restrictions on the sale and carrying of corrosive liquids such as sulfuric acid.
London’s police chief, Cressida Dick, said officers were concerned by the increase in the “completely barbaric” attacks.
“We will arrest people, we will enforce the law as we can, and we are working very closely with the (government) to try to see if there is any changes in the law required,” she told LBC radio.