London's Growing Scourge: Acid Thrown in Faces
Two teens arrested in latest attacks, with robbery the suspected motive
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2017 12:02 PM CDT
This is an image made available by Sarah Cobbold of the scene of an acid attack in London early Thursday July 13, 2017.   (Sarah Cobbold via AP)

(Newser) – Five people were attacked with acid thrown in their faces over a period of 90 minutes in London Thursday night, and now two boys, ages 15 and 16, have been arrested in the attacks. In at least two of the incidents, mopeds were stolen from the victims, and in a third, a robbery was involved. Police say one of the victims suffered "life-changing injuries," the BBC reports. Acid attacks are on the rise in London, with more than 1,800 reported since 2010. CNN reports that the number of incidents went from 166 in 2014 to 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016, and authorities say the trend is continuing this year. One victim attacked Thursday was believed to be a delivery driver, and many delivery drivers are starting to refuse work in some areas over fears they'll be robbed.

A Home Office minister says the government is considering putting tighter regulations on some chemicals, and one Labour MP has suggested that carrying around sulphuric acid without a valid reason should be a crime. "We could certainly come up with arrangements that would allow people to use sulphuric acid in the normal way, perhaps with the benefit of a license," he suggested on a BBC radio program. Until then, one official suggests retailers question youths buying things like drain cleaner, oven cleaner, ammonia, or other household chemicals that could potentially be used in such attacks. Vice reported earlier this year that while acid attacks have been reported in England since Victorian times, the increase in popularity may be a result of growing crackdowns on knives and guns. Chemical weapons are technically legal, easy to find, and easy to carry hidden.

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