The prime suspect being sought by police in connection with a horrific acid attack in London on Wednesday evening is an Afghan national who came to Britain as an asylum seeker, it has emerged.
The Metropolitan Police named 35-year-old Abdul Ezedi as the man wanted for the attack which left multiple victims, including two young children, needing hospital treatment after coming into contact with a corrosive substance.
Further details came to light regarding the incident on Thursday after CCTV was published showing Ezedi fleeing from the scene with significant facial injuries.
It is understood that the suspect accosted a 31-year-old mother who was with her two young daughters, aged 3 and 8. He is believed to have traveled down from Newcastle to London on the day of the attack and was known to the mother, suggesting it was a targeted incident.
The mother and her two children were all exposed to what police believe to be a corrosive alkaline substance. The mother and the three-year-old – who was also thrown to the ground during the attack – are understood to have life-changing injuries but are in a stable condition in the hospital.
Upon trying to flee from the scene, Ezedi attempted to drive off in a nearby car but collided with a stationary vehicle. Four bystanders – three men and a woman – who attempted to intervene during the attack were also injured with three sustaining minor burns.
Five police officers responding to the attack also needed medical treatment bringing the total number of victims to 12 from the initially reported nine.
Medical supplies were retrieved from the scene where passers-by and emergency responders had attempted to treat the burns victims and London Mayor Sadiq Khan revealed a nearby hotel had allowed the victims entry to wash their eyes following the horrific attack.
CCTV in Caledonian Road, north London, showed Ezedi entering a Tesco supermarket where he purchased a bottle of water, presumably to treat his own burn injuries. A still of this footage was released by police to the public.
“The image shows Ezedi with what appears to be significant injuries to the right side of his face. This makes him distinctive. If you see Ezedi, call 999 immediately. He should not be approached,” a Metropolitan Police statement read.
Ezedi was refused asylum in Britain twice but remained in the country
MailOnline reported on Thursday evening that Ezedi entered Britain illegally in the back of a lorry back in 2016 from Afghanistan.
His asylum application was rejected twice but he remained in the country and was successfully granted refugee status on the third attempt in 2020 after persuading a priest to vouch that he had converted to Christianity and would be persecuted should he return to his homeland.
The Sun reported that Ezedi’s asylum request was approved despite being convicted of a sexual offense back in 2018 and being handed a suspended sentence with an unpaid work order.
He is understood to have been residing in Newcastle. The owner of a used car garage in the northeast English city told media he recognized Ezedi from the CCTV image and claimed he lived in a halfway house for asylum seekers in the area.
“He tried to buy a car from us,” said 37-year-old mechanic Michael Binks.
“As soon as my boss saw his picture on the news he recognized him. It’s a couple of months since we last saw him,” he added.
Police remained optimistic about the chances of locating the suspect and the Met Police confirmed they were collaborating with Northumbria Police on the assumption the suspect may attempt to return to the northeast of England.
“We will catch him, I am wholeheartedly confident,” said Supt Gabriel Cameron.