POLICE hunting a man who tried to abduct a teenage girl near her home believe he would have subjected her to a sex attack had he succeeded.
The man, who was wearing a single glove and distinctive hooded top with goggles, grabbed his 17-year-old victim and attempted to drag her towards a secluded area of bushes close to the Morrisons store in Gilmerton.
The girl managed to escape her attacker after kicking him, before running home and raising the alarm.
Immediately after the incident, at 8.30pm on Monday, members of her family searched nearby streets in an attempt to track the attacker, but to no avail.
Detectives told the Evening News the attacker, described as having a gruff Edinburgh accent, made comments of a sexual nature to the girl as he attacked her.
Detective Sergeant Mike Leask said: “This has been a terrifying ordeal for this girl. If this man has been trying to drag her towards a car or bushes, the only motive could have been a sexual assault.”
The man is still at large and police have stepped up patrols in the Gilmerton area to reassure local residents.
DS Leask said the victim had been left badly shaken.
Describing the attack he said: “This man has walked to the rear of her without saying anything and grabbed her arm.
“There’s been a struggle and he’s attempted to drag her into an area with bushes while saying words of a sexual content.
“Despite the fact this man is fairly tall, 5ft, 10in, and of solid build, she’s fought him off. She’s also been screaming for help.
“This isn’t a secluded area, and although it would have been dark at that point it’s not that late and there is the large Morrisons store nearby.
“We’re hoping someone may have seen this man before or after the attack and might be able to help with the inquiry.”
Police said the key to finding the attacker lies with local residents or shoppers, who may recognise the description of his distinctive clothes.
He is described as wearing a hooded sweatshirt with goggles sewn into the hood, along with a single glove on his left hand.
He is white, in his 40s, with a stocky build.
DS Leask added: “Nothing of this nature has happened in this area before. We are mounting additional patrols, there are teams out there now, and we are working to reassure the public that this is an isolated incident.”
Local councillor Norma Hart said the incident had shocked residents and hoped the culprit would be brought to justice quickly.
She said: “I was very shocked to hear about this, but pleased to hear that this young woman has managed to get away.
“This is normally quite a safe area and I was around the area myself that night.
“There are schools very close to where this happened, so people will be very concerned.”