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Clapham attack: Mother and girls among nine injured by ‘corrosive substance’

Witnesses have described a “horrific” scene after a mother and her two girls were doused in their car with a “corrosive substance” in south London.

The family, three responding police officers and two others who tried to help were taken to hospital after the attack in Clapham on Wednesday. One witness told the BBC the mother cried: “I can’t see, I can’t see” as he tried to help. “It was quite horrific,” he added. Police are searching for the suspect. The Metropolitan Police said emergency services were called to Lessar Avenue, near Clapham Common, at 19:25 GMT after reports of an attack with a suspected “corrosive substance”. Photos from the scene show an abandoned silver hatchback with its doors open. A couple who live on Lessar Avenue said they ran into the street after hearing a cry for help and then the sound of a car crashing. “We came outside and saw this guy and he took a girl out of the car and he slammed her to the ground twice,” a man, who did not want to give his name, said. “I chased him half way down the road, but I was in slippers so didn’t get very far. “As I came back, that’s when I saw the woman who had been attacked … so I ran inside to get some water and just sprayed her down with water. “It was quite horrific.”

Labour London Assembly Member Marina Ahmad said there had been a traffic collision on Lessar Avenue “with a man assaulting occupants in a car”. Those who tried to help, including the man’s partner, were also affected by the substance. The man’s partner described a “burning sensation”. Eight people were taken to hospital – five to a major trauma centre, and three to a local hospital. The witness’s partner was later discharged. A ninth person was discharged at the scene, the London Ambulance Service said. The Met said that three officers suffered what are believed to be minor injuries. The extent of the victims’ injuries have not been confirmed by police. Det Supt Alexander Castle said tests are ongoing to identify the substance used.The Home Office defines a “corrosive substance” as having the capability to burn human skin by corrosion.London Fire Brigade confirmed two crews from Clapham and Battersea fire stations attended the scene to help provide emergency care to the mother and two children. “Crews also used specialist equipment to detect a corrosive substance that is believed to have been used in the incident. “The Brigade was called at 19:35 and the incident was over for firefighters by 21:21.” A joint statement by local Clapham Common councillors Alison Inglis-Jones and Ben Curtis said they and the wider community are “in total disbelief and shock” at what had happened.

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