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Manchester Police say women need to be more careful when out following four sex attacks in five months in the Northern Quarter.
Sometime between 5.45am and 6.30am on Saturday 13 August 2011, a 23-year-old woman was punched in the face and sexually assaulted after she was approached by a man on Tib Street.
A 25-year-old woman was threatened, throttled and had her head and face repeatedly smashed against the pavement and wall during an attack on Postal Street shortly before 3.50am on Saturday 12 November 2011. The man demanded sex and then exposed himself.
The third attack happened shortly before 6am on 24 December 2011 on Fountain Street. A 21-year-old woman was assaulted by a man after refusing his demands for sex.
In the latest incident, a 39-year-old woman was raped in an alleyway off Tib Street sometime between 12.10am and 2am on New Years Day - Sunday 1 January 2012.
In all cases the offender is described as being a black man between 5ft 6in and 6ft tall with short or shaven hair. Two victims describe the attacker as being of slim build and another as having a heavy build. Ages of the attacker vary from being in his 20s to mid 40s and two women describe him as having a ‘foreign’ accent.
Superintendent Vanessa Jardine, said: "While we are investigating the possibility these incidents are linked due to the description of the offender, the similarities in the attacks and location of offences, we are keeping an open mind and are not ruling anything out.
"We have a team of 10 dedicated detectives investigating these incidents and we are determined to find whoever is responsible, whether or not that be one individual.
"We are conducting extensive CCTV, forensic and other inquiries have linked in with local residents and businesses to reassure them and keep them updated about what is going on, have made numerous media appeals, have increased patrols in the area at relevant times and have briefed all our city centre staff about these incidents.
"I want to reassure people living in the Northern Quarter or those planning on coming into the city, that the area remains a safe place to live or visit and your safety is a top priority for us.
"We are determined to bring the offender to justice but it is important that the public is aware of these incidents and women take some simple steps to maximise your safety, such as taking pre-booked taxis or sticking to well-light main roads.
"While we have charged one person in relation to an incident on New Year’s Day there is an awful lot more work to be done and I would ask that anyone who thinks they might know who is responsible to contact us.
A 20-year-old man has been charged in relation to the rape on New Year’s Day.
A 28-year-old man has also been arrested in connection with this offence and bailed pending further inquiries.