The scene of one of the acid attacks in northeast London on Thursday.
Sarah Cobbold, via Reuters

Two teenage boys raced through London on a scooter and threw or sprayed acid in the faces of five other scooter riders apparently chosen at random late Thursday, according to the police.

Two boys, ages 15 and 16, were arrested in connection with the attacks, committed during a 72-minute spree across the neighborhoods of Clapton, Hackney, Islington and Stoke Newington in northeast London, the Metropolitan Police said.

One of the victims suffered what were described by the police as life-changing injuries to the face.

The attacks began when two assailants on a scooter pulled up to a man on another scooter at an intersection, threw a corrosive substance in his face and then stole his vehicle, the police said.

Four additional attacks, all involving two teenage boys on a scooter, or moped, took place in rapid succession in neighborhoods nearby, with the assailants spraying acid in the faces of other scooter riders in an apparent attempt to steal their vehicles, the police said. They succeeded in stealing only two scooters during the spree, the police said.

All of the victims were men, ranging in age from 24 to 52, and there was no indication that the assaults were hate crimes. “These are hideous offenses and must have been very frightening for all of the victims,” Chief Inspector Ben Clark said. “I’m aware of rumors circulating that the victims were all food delivery riders set up in advance of the attacks. This is not the case. All victims were riding mopeds at the time of the attacks, but were from a variety of backgrounds.”

The police said the teenagers had been arrested on suspicion of robbery and of causing grievous bodily harm, and appealed for witnesses and anyone with footage of the attacks to come forward. All five victims were treated in an East London hospital, and at least four of them remain hospitalized, the police said.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Rod Nordland

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