A teen has been arrested after six people were injured when a noxious substance was thrown during an incident at an east London shopping mall.
Three of the victims needed hospital treatment after they were hit with the substance during an “altercation” between two groups of males at the Stratford Centre.
Horrified onlookers reported scenes of panic in the aftermath of the incident which was first feared to be a series of random attacks.
One witness described seeing a young male victim screaming in pain as his friends shouted “it is an acid attack, he is burning”, while others rushed to wash the substance from their skin.
A 15-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm in connection with the incident on Saturday evening.
Scotland Yard said the altercation took place inside the shopping centre shortly before 8pm on Saturday.
“During this incident a noxious substance was thrown. When the liquid was thrown, both groups ran from the scene,” the force said.
Scotland Yard said all the victims were male and inquiries are ongoing.
Chief Superintendent Ade Adelekan, Newham borough commander, said: “I would like to be very clear concerning this incident.
“What initially may have been perceived as a number of random attacks has, on closer inspection, been found to be one incident involving two groups of males.”
Police immediately put a cordon at the front of the shopping centre, with a handful of young witnesses visibly shaken by what they saw.
One said: “I can’t speak now, my mate’s been hurt.”
Witnesses said it was happened after an argument broke out among a group of people.
A Burger King assistant manager who gave his name as Hossen, 28, a , told the Press Association he saw a victim and his friend, a known local homeless man, run into the fast food outlet bathroom “to wash acid off his face”.
He said: “There were cuts around his eyes and he was trying to chuck water into them.”
Inside the Burger King toilets, water could be seen all over the floor, along with toilet tissue and medical gloves.
Outside, people gathered at police cordons while victims were being treated behind a blue screen.