A three-year-old boy was left screaming in agony and suffered serious burns on his face and his arms after being targeted in a deliberate attack with a substance thought to be acid while out shopping with his family over the weekend.
The assault happened at a Home Bargains store in Worcester, UK, on Saturday, and the toddler was in a pram when the substance was sprayed or thrown at him.
Three men aged 22, 25 and 26 have been detained in London connection with the attack while a fourth person, 39, is in custody in Wolverhampton. All four are being held on suspicion of conspiring to commit grievous bodily harm.
Witnesses said the men were “grinning” when the attack took place and described one as a “skinny white guy”.
The motive is not yet clear, but police do not believe the incident was related to a march nearby by the ultra-right English Defence League.
After the attack, the boy was rushed to hospital and was later released.
West Mercia Police Chief Superintendent Mark Travis said in a statement: “At this time we are treating this as a deliberate attack on a three-year-old boy. The motive for the attack is unclear. Officers are working hard to establish exactly what happened and what the substance involved was.
“The incident will rightly shock the local community, and I would like to reassure local people that we are carrying out a thorough to identify those responsible.
“We are uncertain about the long-term implications of those burns, but we do hope these won’t be life-changing injuries.”
Local MP Robin Walker described the attack as “horrific” and said lawmakers were considering tougher sentences for acid attacks.
The toddler is recovering at home with his family who are being supported by specialist police.