Acid attack on model and her cousin being treated as hate crime

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An acid attack on an aspiring model and her cousin is now being treated as a hate crime.

Resham Khan and Jameel Muhktar, 37, were attacked by a man throwing acid through their car window on Ms Khan's 21st birthday.

Police, who have described the incident as a "horrendous act of violence", said new information had come to light, leading them to investigate the assault as a hate crime.

John Tomlin, 24, is being hunted over the attack and police have warned the public not to approach him.

Acting Detective Superintendent Neil Matthews of the Metropolitan Police appealed to Tomlin to come forward.

Mr Matthews said: "This investigation continues to move at great pace and my team continues to act on a number of leads to find Tomlin.

"I would also appeal directly to Tomlin to make contact with police and hand himself in and would urge anyone who knows of his whereabouts to contact police.

"We are treating this incident very seriously and, following new information that has come to light, it is now being treated as a hate crime."

Both Ms Khan and Mr Muhktar suffered life-changing injuries in the attack in Beckton, east London on June 21.

In the days afterwards Ms Khan said: "I'm devastated. I keep wondering if my life will ever be the same."

Mr Mukhtar has said he feels "emotionally wrecked" and "in continuous pain".

Writing on Facebook on Friday Ms Khan said she did not want the incident to "fuel a division among people".

She said: "From a large majority, there will always be a sick and twisted minority.

"Stop tearing each other down, stop arguing religion and politics.

"Make peace with each other and the world.

"Letting this man or the events of the past fill you up with hate will only darken the soul."

Friends set up a campaign to raise funds, and the total has reached more than £30,000, surpassing its target.

Daniel Mann, a university friend of Ms Khan who helped set up the fundraising campaign, said the incident has forced the pair to "put their lives on hold".

"Resham was due to start her new job on July 2nd which she can no longer do," Mr Mann wrote on the crowdfunding page.

"Also she was called in for a job interview which she can no longer attend.

"Their life is currently on hold but we want them to see that this is temporary and things will get back to normal."

Mr Mann said Ms Khan had plans to open her own business over the summer but now "she feels as though her identity has been stolen from her, on her 21st birthday".

He said the money will help Ms Khan and her family with aftercare for the physical and mental trauma of the attack.