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London police say chemical attacker presumed dead

LONDON (Reuters) - London police said on Friday that a man suspected of injuring several people last week by throwing a corrosive chemical on them is now presumed to have drowned in the River Thames.

Police have been searching for Abdul Shokoor Ezedi after a woman and her two daughters, aged 8 and 3, were attacked on Jan. 31 in south London, in what authorities described as a "horrific" incident that left the mother with life-changing injuries.

The case has drawn political attention in Britain because Ezedi had been granted asylum after a sexual assault conviction.

Metropolitan Police Commander Jon Savell told reporters authorities now presume, based on CCTV footage, that Ezedi went into the River Thames from a bridge in west London.

"It is now our main working theory that Ezedi has actually gone into the Thames from Chelsea Bridge. All of our work thus far has not seen him come off the bridge," Savell said.

"If he did go in the water ... it's quite likely that he wouldn't surface for quite some while, and the experts would indicate that there is a possibility that he would never be found."

The BBC said Ezedi was originally from Afghanistan and had arrived in 2016.

The arrival of asylum seekers is the focus of a heated political debate in Britain on how to control illegal migration. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made tackling the issue a key pledge ahead of an election expected later this year.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Mark Potter)