At least ten women were attacked at a Barcelona metro station by a man believed to have targeted them because of their gender, say police.
It was initially thought the Moroccan aggressor could have been acting under the influence of drink and drugs when he assaulted the women.
He was filmed punching one of his unsuspecting victims in the face as she listened to music on headphones and looked at her mobile, leaving her with a perforated eardrum.
Now it has emerged a police unit specialising in tackling hate crimes are leading the ongoing probe after officers studied CCTV footage and concluded the 30-year-old man appeared to have targeted only women and may have picked them out randomly because of their gender.
Six of the women, including the one punched in the face, were attacked as they waited on the platform at Camp de l’Arpa station on line five of the Barcelona metro.
Police are understood to have gathered evidence pointing to at least another four assaults.
They went public yesterday morning with an appeal for victims to come forward over the incident after arresting the suspect late on Friday night.
The unnamed detainee is said to have previous for a number of thefts and robbery, although he appeared to be making no attempt to steal anything from the women he assaulted on Friday morning.
Police initially formally identified him after he was intercepted by tube security staff before releasing him with the intention of preparing a full report so he could be summoned to attend court at a later date for questioning.
That was before the full scale of the attacks became apparent when it was thought he had only committed a minor assault.
He was re-arrested around 11pm on Friday after officers had been handed the CCTV showing him attacking several women on the station platform and seriously injuring one of them.
Many of the female commuters had already boarded their train and left the station by the time officials intervened.
At least two Good Samaritans are said to have been assaulted as they tried to chase after him after he targeted the girl with headphones on.
A spokesman for the regional Mossos d’Esquadra police force in Barcelona confirmed yesterday morning as they urged the suspect’s female victims to come forward: ‘On Friday night we arrested a man for assaulting several women at the Camp de l’Arpa metro station in Barcelona.
‘We are investigating if there are more women who were assaulted.
‘If you have been a victim, report it to any police station.”It was not immediately clear today how many women had answered the police appeal and come forward to say they had been attacked.
Tania Verge, Catalan Minister for Equality and Feminism, tweeted: ‘All our support for the women who suffered an assault on Barcelona Metro’s Line 5.
‘We put gender-based violence support services at your disposal.’
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