Six people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a boy was assaulted and knocked unconscious in Croydon in a “brutal” suspected hate crime.
Four men and two women were arrested late on Saturday, the Metropolitan Police said, on suspicion of attempted murder and violent disorder.
Detectives believe a group of eight people chased the Kurdish-Iranian teen after discovering he was an asylum seeker “and launched a brutal attack,” they said on Sunday morning.
Police and paramedics were called to Shrublands Avenue at 11.40pm on Friday after reports of a man being attacked. They found a 17-year-old boy with “serious head and facial injuries” who is now in stable condition in hospital. He had suffered a fractured skull and a blood clot on his brain.
DS Kris Blamires, of Croydon CID, said: “At this early stage it is believed that about eight suspects approached the victim as he waited at a bus stop with two friends outside The Goat public house in the Shrublands.
“It is understood that the suspects asked the victim where he was from and when they established that he was an asylum seeker they chased him and launched a brutal attack.
“He has sustained serious head and facial injuries as a result of this attack, which included repeated blows to the head by a large group of attackers.
“A number of people came to the aid of the victim as he lay unconscious and injured following the assault.”
Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, Croydon’s borough commander, called it a “savage attack” and said it was only the intervention of passers-by and the arrival of police that stopped it being worse.
He said: “A number of bystanders and eyewitnesses tried to intervene and say to the attackers that enough is enough.
“By all accounts they didn’t actually stop until the sound of police sirens were heard in the background.”
Detectives are investigating whether some of those involved had been drinking in The Goat, Mr Boothe said.
The “close-knit community” has been left shocked by the ferocity of the attack, he added.
Housing minister Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, said: “I think most people in Croydon will be as appalled as I am that what appears to have happened is a young man who came to this country seeking sanctuary has apparently been targeted because of his ethnic background.”
Three 20-year-old men, a 20-year-old woman, a 24-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman have been arrested.
The Met is treating the attack as a suspected hate crime, and is appealing for witnesses.
Anyone with information should call Croydon CID on 020 3276 2234 or 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Additional reporting by agencies