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Clapham: Chemical attack suspect Abdul Shokoor Ezedi was granted asylum after being convicted of sexual assault

The suspect in the Clapham chemical attack was granted asylum after being convicted of a sexual assault, Sky News understands.

Police are hunting Abdul Shokoor Ezedi after a mother and two children were targeted with an alkaline substance in Clapham, south London, on Wednesday evening.

It is understood Ezedi was handed a suspended sentence for a sexual offence in Newcastle in 2018, and was discharged from probation supervision in 2020.

The latest development comes after police issued a new photo of the former asylum seeker, who only had his application granted on his third attempt after arriving in the UK by lorry in 2016.

Sky News understands Ezedi was allowed to stay after a priest vouched for his conversion to Christianity, saying he was "wholly committed" to his new religion. Ezedi had claimed his life would be in danger if he returned to his native Afghanistan.

On Thursday evening, Superintendent Gabriel Cameron said the new image, taken at 8.48pm on Wednesday, was of the last-known sighting of Ezedi in Caledonian Road, north London, and was less than two hours after the assault.

"The image is taken from the Tesco store, where Ezedi is believed to have purchased a bottle of water," he said in a statement. "He left the shop and turned right.

"The image shows Ezedi with what appears to be significant injuries to the right side of his face. This makes him distinctive.

"If you see Ezedi, call 999 immediately. He should NOT be approached."

Clapham chemical attack latest: Manhunt under way for suspect

The police warning came after a woman and two girls were targeted in south London on Wednesday evening.

The suspect, 35, from Newcastle, is believed to have travelled down to London earlier that day before the attack near Clapham Common and could be heading back, according to police.

Both Northumbria Police and the British Transport Police are helping the Met with the manhunt.

Officers have also confirmed a car involved in the attack belonged to Ezedi, while the substance used in the attack was alkaline.

A 31-year-old mother and her three-year-old daughter, alongside her other daughter, aged eight, remain in hospital following the incident.

The mother and the younger child may have suffered life-changing injuries, according to police.

Officers said the suspect was known to the woman and described the attack as "targeted".

A total of 12 people were hurt during the incident, including the mother and her two children, and five officers who were injured as they responded.

Three women - two in their 30s and one in her 50s - were also injured when they came to the aid of the woman and her two children.

They have all been discharged from hospital with minor burns injuries.

A man in his 50s, who also helped, declined hospital treatment for minor injuries he suffered.

'We will catch him'

Officers say Ezedi attempted to make off from the scene in a car following the incident, but crashed with another vehicle, and then made off on foot in the direction of Clapham Common.

Earlier on Thursday at a news conference, Superintendent Cameron urged people not to approach Ezedi.

"If you see him [Ezedi], I plea do not approach him," he said.

"And if you see him, call 999. He has significant injuries to the right side of his face."

Asked if he would be caught, Superintendent Cameron added: "We have got a significant asset looking for this man.

"We will catch him. I am wholeheartedly confident."

CCTV of attack

Footage has emerged of the attack, which took place in Lessar Avenue shortly before 7.30pm on Wednesday.

The CCTV footage shows a man running around a car before getting into the driver's seat, with a woman and child in front of the vehicle holding their hands to their faces.

In the video, a car is driven at the woman and strikes her, before a man stops the vehicle and gets out. He opens the back door and appears to remove a child, before violently throwing them to the ground.

The video also appears to show people from neighbouring properties leaving their homes to chase the man down the road.

'It was all so traumatising'

One witness, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sky News: "He grabbed one of the two children and violently grabbed them and slammed them on the floor.

"The lady then shouted: 'My eyes! My eyes! Call the police, my eyes!'

"Then I saw him run off. It was all so traumatising."

Another witness described how he tried to wash the chemical from the woman's face.

"The man then threw something at the woman. She was screaming: 'My eyes! My eyes!'

"I then ran into my house, grabbed a water bottle and threw water on her eyes. Her lips were black. Her skin looked burnt."