(LONDON) – A 3-year-old boy suffered severe burns to the face and arm during a suspected acid attack in England, which investigators said was intentional, police said Sunday.
Chief Superintendent Mark Travis of West Mercia said The police were working to identify the substance the child had burned at a discount store in Worcester on Saturday.
A 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of plotting to cause serious bodily harm. Three others were searched for the survey and the police released photos to generate public tips.
"At this time, we treat this as a deliberate attack," Travis said in a statement. "The incident will rightly shock the local community, and I want to assure the locals that we are conducting a thorough investigation."
The British police reported an increase in acid attacks during the last year, but it is very rare for a victim to be so young. Some attacks involve gang fights or nightly confrontations in bars.
Most of the attacks occurred in London, but they have been reported in many parts of the UK. A London teenager was sentenced to more than ten years in prison this year after he was convicted of spraying acid on the faces of moped riders so he could steal their mopeds.
The police also report that harmless liquids are sometimes thrown in the face to ambush targets to make them think that they have been hit by a corrosive substance, panicking, and giving up their valuables more easily.
Robin Walker, the Worcester representative in parliament, said lawmakers are considering allowing more stringent sentences for people convicted of some sort intentional robbery with acid
He described what had happened to the three-year-old boy as "horrific".
A police statement late on Sunday afternoon said the boy had been released from the hospital. He was not identified.