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£20k reward offered for alkali attack suspect who ‘used very strong corrosive’

A CCTV image of Abdul Ezedi, the suspect in the Clapham alkali attack, at Tesco in Caledonian Road, north London (Metropolitan Police/PA)
A CCTV image of Abdul Ezedi, the suspect in the Clapham alkali attack, at Tesco in Caledonian Road, north London (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The suspect in the alkali attack in south London used a “very strong concentrated corrosive substance”, police have revealed, as they offered a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to his arrest.

Metropolitan Police officers have been searching for Abdul Ezedi, 35, since Wednesday when a 31-year-old woman suffered potentially life-changing injuries while her daughters, aged eight and three, were also hurt in the attack in Clapham.

The woman, who was known to Ezedi, remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition.

Investigators believe there are people who know the location of Ezedi, who is from Newcastle, and have not come forward and the Met has warned anyone found assisting him will face arrest.

Commander Jon Savell said analysis of the substance showed it was highly corrosive.

He said: “The liquid used in the attack was a very strong concentrated corrosive substance, either liquid sodium hydroxide or liquid sodium carbonate.

“Further inquiries are ongoing including comparison with the containers seized from Ezedi’s address in Newcastle.”

Sodium hydroxide and sodium carbonate are used in detergents and to make soaps, while sodium hydroxide is also used in drain cleaners.

The force also said it has new information on Ezedi’s movements, including that the last sighting of him was at 9.33pm at Tower Hill Underground station in east London on January 31, shortly after the attack in Clapham.

Previous sightings put him at King’s Cross Station at around 9pm on January 31 and police said he boarded a Victoria Line train to Victoria Station, arriving at 9.10pm.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

He then boarded an eastbound District Line train to Tower Hill at 9.16pm.

Mr Savell added: “I am hugely grateful to the public for the significant number of calls that we have received.

“Your help is critical. A reward of up to £20,000 is now available for information leading to his arrest.

“I must warn anyone who is helping Ezedi to evade capture – if you are harbouring or assisting him then you will be arrested.

The manhunt to find Ezedi is being led by the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, working in conjunction with a broad range of specialist departments and local policing teams.

The Met is also working with the Home Office, UK Border Force, UK Visas and Immigration, the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police and several other police forces.

It comes as questions have been raised over how the suspect, who was granted asylum in the UK after two failed attempts, was able to stay in the country despite being convicted of a sex offence.

Abdul Ezedi
Abdul Ezedi was allowed to stay in the country after pleading guilty to a sex assault in 2018 (Met Police/PA)

Ezedi, who is thought to have arrived in the UK from Afghanistan on the back of a lorry in 2016, claimed to have converted to Christianity, which would have put him at risk following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle said in a statement it had found nothing to suggest he had become a Catholic but checks are continuing.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed Ezedi was handed a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court on January 9, 2018 after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual assault and one of exposure.

He was put on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

As part of the search, raids have been carried out at two addresses in east London and three in Newcastle, yielding “significant and important pieces of evidence”, police said.

They include empty containers with corrosive warnings found at one address in Newcastle, which were shown in footage released by detectives on Saturday.

Corrosive substance attack scene
Police at the scene of the chemical attack in south London (PA)

The wanted man left Newcastle in the “very, very early hours” of Wednesday and travelled south to the capital and was in the Tooting area by around 6.30am, police say.

His vehicle was seen again in Croydon, south London, at around 4.30pm and by around 7pm he was in Streatham.

Ezedi allegedly threw the younger child to the ground during the attack at 7.25pm, before attempting to drive away from the scene, crashing into a stationary vehicle and fleeing on foot.

Minutes later he boarded a Tube train at Clapham South Underground station, and by 8pm he was at King’s Cross Tube station.

Police say three members of the public who came to the aid of the family during Wednesday’s attack, two aged in their 30s and one in her 50s, have all been discharged from hospital with minor burns.

Five officers who responded to the incident were also treated and have now left hospital.