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Detectives have urged a rape suspect to hand himself in "for his own safety" after reports emerged he is being hunted by vigilantes.
Kadian Nelson, 26, is wanted in connection with an attack on a teenage girl in Merton, south-west London on Tuesday.
A crime scene remains in place and the teenager is being supported by specialist officers, the Metropolitan Police said.
Detective superintendent Owain Richards said that "emotions are running high" as members of the public have reportedly begun hunting Nelson.
He told SurreyLive: "I am appealing directly to Kadian to attend his nearest police station immediately or to call the police and inform us as to his whereabouts.
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"This is for his safety, as well as members of the public. I recognise that this is a shocking and distressing incident and emotions locally are running very high.
"We are of course aware of videos and images circulating on social media, and of groups of people attending various addresses.
"I urge those people to go home. Do not try to take the law into your own hands or you may end up doing something you regret and potentially face police action yourself.
"You must allow us to do our jobs. It is imperative that we follow the right processes as we investigate this incident as any interference could potentially affect proceedings further down the line."
A video shared on social media appears to show a girl being approached from behind before being forced into a side street by a man.
No arrests have yet been made.
Any witnesses or those who have information that could assist police should call 101.
A Section 60 stop and search order has been authorised for Merton and Wandsworth areas.
- MET Police
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