Police search for 'convicted sex offender' accused of corrosive substance attack

Police are hunting for a man who fled the scene of a 'corrosive substance' attack that has left nine people, including two children, in hospital

Detectives are searching for a "dangerous individual" in connection with an attack using a corrosive substance in south London, which left a mother and her two daughters in hospital.

The Metropolitan Police are urging anyone with information on Abdul Shakoor Ezedi, 35, a suspected sex offender and who has ties to Newcastle, to come forward.

The mother, who is aged 31, and her two daughters - aged eight and three - all remain in hospital. She and her youngest child may be left with life-changing injuries, the Met said.

Mr Ezedi was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018, and was granted asylum in Britain after two failed attempts, the PA news agency understands.

The Met have released a CCTV image of Mr Ezedi, taken from a Tesco store along Caledonian Road, in north London, on Wednesday evening, where he is believed to have bought a bottle of water.

Caledonian Road is where Mr Edezi was last seen, after he had initially driven away from the crime scene and crashed into a stationary vehicle, eventually making off on foot.

Warning: Some readers may find the below image graphic

Mr Ezedi was last seen at a Tesco store in north London. Credit: Metropolitan Police

Witnesses say they saw a man grab the youngest child from a car and throw her onto the road twice in Lesser Avenue, near Clapham Common. Screams could then be heard from the mother on Wednesday at 7.25pm, they told ITV News.

Shannon Christi told ITV News she heard banging and cries for help, prompting her to run out of her home. What she witnessed made her "see red", she said.

Ms Christi said: "I ran outside and saw this man take a little girl out the car and throw her to the floor twice. I ran over and grabbed the child and bought her into my house.

"He ran down the road and my partner chased him down. I saw another little girl crying so I took her in. Then, I saw the mum screaming I can't see. I just saw red. I had tunnel vision. The little girl was just crying."

Ms Christi, who began to feel a burning sensation in her mouth and on her skin, leading to her being taken to hospital, said the incident was "traumatising".

Shannon Christi, who says she helped the young children during the attack, retells the incident to ITV News' Helen Keenan

The disappearance of Mr Ezedi, who was allegedly spotted fleeing the scene, has prompted a UK wide manhunt, involving a police helicopter, forces in London, Northumbria and the British transport police.

In a separate statement, Supt Cameron said: "We believe the man and woman are known to each other. Our investigation is in its early stages and we are working to establish why this awful incident has happened.

"Officers from across the Met are working with partner agencies and forces to locate and arrest the man.

"While this appears a targeted attack, he is a dangerous individual and we urgently need to find him. We will release more information about him as soon as we can."

Supt Cameron asked any members of the public with useful information to call 101 quoting reference CAD 7790/31Jan.

The attack on Lessar Avenue injured 12 people in total. Credit: ITV News

He added: "I also urge local people and drivers to check their doorbell and dash cameras for any footage that might have captured a man fleeing the area, and to please contact us immediately."

On Thursday morning, Lesser Avenue remained blocked off by police and a white car, with its doors still open, was in the middle of the road. The vehicle has since been removed by police.

Three women, two in their 30s and one in her 50s, who rushed to help the victims, were taken to hospital with minor burns injuries, but have now been discharged.

A man in his 50s who also helped declined hospital treatment for minor injuries he suffered.

Some of the victims were guests at The South Belvedere Hotel, in Clapham Common South Side, which is adjacent to the road where the attack took place.

Lessar Avenue, where the attack happened, on Thursday morning. Credit: ITV News

A spokesperson from the hotel told ITV News its staff were working with police and reassuring other hotel guests that they are safe.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those affected," they said.

Five police officers were also injured in what Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley described as a "ghastly attack". They have now all left hospital.

Supt Cameron said: "All these members of the public, and my officers, deserve enormous recognition and praise for coming to the aid of this woman and children in what must have been a terrifying scenario. We will provide them with all the support we can.

"I also want to commend nearby hotel staff after victims and officers sought refuge and water there following the incident."

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