Worcester 'acid attack': Boy aged three injured

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Image copyright West Mercia Police
Image caption Police released CCTV images of three men they want to speak to about the attack

A three-year-old boy has been seriously injured in a suspected acid attack in a shop.

The boy was "deliberately attacked" at Home Bargains in Worcester at 14:15 BST on Saturday, West Mercia Police said.

He has since been discharged from hospital after being treated for serious burns to his arm and face.

A 39-year-old man from Wolverhampton has been arrested in connection with the attack at Shrub Hill Retail Park, Tallow Hill.

The boy was discharged from hospital on Sunday afternoon, though the "long-term implications of his injuries are unknown" Ch Supt Mark Travis said.

The boy was "out with his young family" when "acid or a corrosive substance" was either "thrown at or sprayed towards him" in what the officer described as a "very rare", "deliberate attack".

The city's MP said it was "horrific", while the city council leader described it as "pure evil".

Police released images taken from CCTV footage.

"The three men in the photo may have information vital to our investigation," Ch Supt Travis said.

"I am sure someone will recognise them and I would urge anyone with information to contact us as a matter of urgency."

Image copyright West Mercia Police
Image caption Police said the three men may have "vital information"

"The incident will rightly shock the local community and I would like to reassure local people that we are carrying out a thorough investigation to identify those responsible," Ch Supt Travis added.

The motive for the attack is so far "unclear", he said.

Officers said they were working to determine what the substance involved was and exactly what happened.

The 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm, and remains in police custody.

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, described it as "horrific".

"The shock will be universal. Anyone conducting such an attack on a small child is just appalling," he said.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Officers said they were working to determine what the substance involved was and exactly what happened at the store

"It's an issue which rightly there has been a lot of concern in Parliament [about] and a move to toughen sentences for any kind of acid attack," he added.

"But particularly the nature of this being a small child is very concerning indeed.

"At this stage the key thing is for the police to act quickly and see if they can track down the perpetrator and understand what's behind it, because it is an unthinkable thing to happen."

'Pure evil'

A Home Bargains spokesperson said: "Our thoughts are with this young child and his family at this very difficult time."

Ch Supt Travis said: "I would like to praise the staff in store and emergency services who provided fantastic care and as a result that has mitigated the impact on the little boy."

Worcester City Council leader Marc Bayliss said it was "absolutely pure evil".

"Worcester is not that sort of place. We are a quintessential small English city," he said.

"I have never heard of an acid attack in Worcester, so this is absolutely not something we have any experience of."

He urged anyone with information to come forward, saying: "Think if this was a member of your family, an innocent child, a three-year-old probably scarred or damaged for life by this.

"We need to bring the perpetrators to justice and quickly."