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Hong Kong hit by third acid attack

HONG Kong police searched for suspects behind a third acid attack that injured 24 people in one of the city's most densely populated shopping districts. Nearly 100 people have been injured in the attacks so far.

The latest attack, on Monday night, dominated headlines in Hong Kong, with several newspapers showing photos of victims washing off the acid by the roadside.

Police said a bottle filled with a corrosive liquid was hurled into a crowd in the busy Mong Kok district, injuring 24 people. None of the victims, aged four to 49, were seriously burned.

It is the third such attack in six months in the neighborhood.

On the same street last month, 30 people suffered burns when two plastic bottles filled with acid were thrown into a crowd. Another 46 were injured in a similar attack in the same neighborhood in December.

There were no signs the attacks had sparked widespread panic in the city of 7 million people, as locals mostly went about their business. But in Mong Kok - which means "busy corner" in Chinese and is a shopping hot spot that attracts thousands of people daily - some shoppers were staying away.

"I thought the attacks would stop, but it happened again," one of the victims surnamed Leung was quoted as saying in Hong Kong's Ming Pao Daily News. "I always go to Mong Kok, but from now on I'll never go to that area again."

Leung suffered burns on her neck and back.

Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang condemned the attack, saying it was "cold blooded and evil" and that the assailant was "scum of the society."

Police superintendent Edward Leung was quoted by the South China Morning Post yesterday as saying it was possible the same person had carried out all three attacks.

Leung said in a radio interview yesterday that officers were reviewing surveillance footage taken by cameras recently installed to monitor the area of the attacks. But he said it wasn't clear whether the assailant could be identified from the images.

If convicted, the assailant would be charged with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, which has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, Leung said earlier.


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