Two women were abducted and raped separately by a man in a car, police have confirmed.

The Met Police says one woman was abducted in Chingford, Essex, at 12.30am yesterday, and a second woman was abducted from a street in Edgware at 12.15pm the same day.

They were both taken to Watford.

They later managed to escape from their attacker in Osborne Road, North Watford at around 2.30pm yesterday (Thursday).

The women, both aged in their 20s, are receiving specialist care.

A source has told the Watford Observer that a struggle took place between the man and his victims in Osborne Road and passers-by stepped in to save both women.

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The suspect, who is on the run, is described as white and of muscular build.

Police were seen in North Watford at around 3pm yesterday and a Met Police spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that they were searching an address in connection with an alleged abduction.

Osborne Road was cordoned off at both ends and forensic officers and police remained in the street until around 8.30pm yesterday collecting any evidence.

Police patrols have been increased in the North Watford area, Hertfordshire Constabulary said tonight.

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Police guard the scene in Osborne Road at around 6pm yesterday (Thursday)

An investigation is underway. At this stage, police believe the abductions were random.

Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin, who leads the investigation, said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for both women who were abducted by the suspect in separate areas. At this stage there is nothing to suggest either victims were specifically targeted for any reason, but both appear to have been selected at random.

“A number of active leads are being followed up urgently including reviewing CCTV footage and forensic analysis. We are also working closely with our colleagues in Hertfordshire to establish what links the suspect may have in that area.

“Stranger attacks like this are extremely rare. That being said, I would urge everyone in these areas to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to police immediately via 999.”

Watford Chief Inspector Matt Phillips added: “We are doing everything we can to support the Metropolitan Police Service with the investigation into this crime.

"Our Safer Neighbourhood Team has increased their patrols in the North Watford area as a reassurance measure and I would urge anyone in the community who has concerns or worries following this incident to make contact via 101."

Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call police on 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD 3041/25Apr or Crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.

Anyone in Hertfordshire who has been the victim of sexual abuse and/or violence can access free independent support and advice at the county’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). You can visit or call 08081784448.