A MAN was taken to hospital after being sprayed with an unknown liquid in a busy shopping centre.

Police were called to the incident near Millie’s Cookies in the Mall, Blackburn, on Tuesday afternoon.

A 42-year-old man, from Blackburn, was sprayed in the face with the liquid during an argument and was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital.

The attacker ran off when the police arrived but was found and arrested in the River Island store inside The Mall, police said.

One witness saw several police officers surrounding the victim in King William Street.

He said: “The man was in agony, he looked like he was in a lot of pain.

“There were lots of people stood outside the Wilko shop in King William Street.

“The officers were pouring loads of water into the man’s face to wash whatever the stuff was, it looked really painful.”

A nearby shop worker said: “There were two police vans in King William Street and an ambulance.

“One person had been sprayed in the face with something, he looked in a lot of pain.

“A woman and a child had been caught by the spray, but it was in passing and they were not directly sprayed.”

Police officers were seen walking around King William Street after the incident.

A police spokesman said: “We were called shortly after 3pm after a man had been sprayed in the face with an unknown liquid inside The Mall.

“A 50-year-old man from Blackburn was arrested on suspicion of assault and possession of a firearm.”

Police said they suspected the liquid was pepper spray.