Four men have been arrested in connection with an attack that left a 3-year-old boy in London with severe burns all over his arms and face on Saturday, police said.
Investigators in West Mercia, U.K., are working to identify the specific substance that was used to burn the boy and are interrogating the four men involved with the attack, the Associated Press reports.
The police said that the boy was deliberately targeted when he was attacked with acid at a shopping center in the English city of Worcester.
“At this time we are treating this as a deliberate attack,” Mark Travis, the West Mercia Chief Superintendent, said in a statement. “The incident will rightly shock the local community, and I would like to reassure local people that we are carrying out a thorough investigation.”
Police first arrested a 39-year-old man on Sunday, and on Monday arrested three more subjects, aged 22, 25 and 26, in London, according to a police statement. The identities of the men have not yet been released.
While the boy was released from the hospital on Sunday, police say that they do not know what the long-term effects of the attack will be.
The AP also reported that assaults with acid have become increasingly common in the U.K., with many of the attacks happening in London. Police did say that acid attacks typically aren’t directed at such a young person.
The motive behind the burning of the 3-year-old remains a mystery and has drawn scorn from several public officials in the U.K.
A member of the Parliament called the attack “horrific” and suggested that lawmakers are thinking about increasing punishments for people convicted of assaults with acid, the AP reported.
Another local politician, Marc Bayliss, the leader of the Worcester City Council, said that the attack was “absolutely pure evil,” the New York Daily News reported.
Police are continuing to investigate the attack, and have urged anyone with information to come forward.
"There is still work to do and we are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances of the incident,” Travis said. “We are still appealing for anyone with information to come forward and help us with our enquiries."
[Photo: West Mercia Police]