A 15-year-old Army Cadet was attacked and burned by a man wielding a makeshift blowtorch on Saturday.
The boy was standing at a bus stop in Manchester city centre on Saturday evening when he was attacked.
He was wearing his camouflaged uniform and had spent the day selling poppies for Remembrance Sunday, celebrated in the UK on November 15.
The British commemoration honours all those fighting for Britain and the Commonwealth, including Australians, during World War One.
A man carrying an aerosol can and a lighter approached the cadet at the bus stop, spraying him with lit fumes and causing minor burns to his face while singing hair on his face and his right forearm, Greater Manchester Police said.
Police said the man, who was described as black or Asian and 5ft 8 inches tall wearing a dark hooded top, appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and was staggering.
He walked off from the bus stop by the Manchester Gallery without saying a word.
Police said it was "pure luck" that the cadet did not sustain more serious injuries, and that he and his family are in a state of "total shock".
Detective Inspector Liam Boden said:
"This is an absolutely appalling attack on a young man who was raising money to help remember all those who gave their lives fighting bravely for their country.
"At this stage of our inquiries, we're keeping an open mind as to what motivated the offender to commit such an act.
"Given the initial description we have of the offender, it may be that he was under the influence of something, but whatever his motivation, his violent actions could have scarred this young man for life.
Although he has suffered some minor injuries, it is pure luck that he did not sustain more serious burns to his face and body."
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