DETECTIVES hunting for a man who sexually assaulted a 14-year-old schoolgirl are investigating the possibility the attack is linked to another incident.

Officers in Hyndburn CID believe the early morning attack in Sabden on Monday could be connected to an indecent exposure two-and-a-half miles away in Padiham.

DI Jill Johnson, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are aware of another incident of a sexual nature in East Lancashire a week earlier.

“We are now making inquiries to see if the incident can be linked to the attack that happened in Sabden.”

The terrified youngster had been walking along Padiham Road when she was grabbed by her attacker, who had followed her for a short distance.

He put his hand over the victim’s mouth and after pulling her along the driveway tried to force her to take down her trousers.

The brave teen refused and managed to fight him off as he attempted to undress her.

Police said the attacker then gave up and ran off up Padiham Road in the direction of Simonstone Road.

The ‘shellshocked’ teen ran in the opposite direction while calling her mum on her mobile phone for help.

The incident which has left the Sabden community in a state of shock took place shortly after 7.30am.

Some headteachers in the surrounding areas have now issued safety warnings to pupils for their trips to and from school.

The incident in Padiham happened at around 7.25am last Tuesday in Church Street, opposite an alleyway known as Double Row.

A man was stood in the alleyway when he has shouted over to attract the attention of a 15-year-old girl stood at a bus stop on the opposite side of the road.

He has then exposed himself and acted indecently.

The girl ran away towards a friend walking to the bus stop and the man ran off behind nearby housing.

DI Johnson, said: “I would like to reappeal to anyone who thinks they may have seen anything suspicious on the day of the attack or in the week leading up to it to contact police.

“No matter how insignificant you think the information may be it could really help catch this man.”

The attacker is described as having a deep voice with a local accent.

He was wearing trainers, dark coloured jogging pants and a dark coloured hooded top with brown gloves.