By Paul Thornton and Cara Sulieman
POLICE are hunting a rapist they say could strike again after a 16-year-old girl was raped on a footpath.
The victim was walking her dog along a footpath in the Crewe Toll area of Edinburgh when she was grabbed from behind and forced off the path.
Her attacker then raped her before she managed to escape and find help.
The vicious attack happened at around 10pm on Wednesday night as the girl was walking along a footpath towards the red bridge on Ferry Road in Edinburgh.
She passed her attacker on the path and kept walking before he came up behind her, grabbed and forced her off the path.
The girl eventually managed to escape from her assailant before running away and getting help from two passer bys.
Lothian and Borders Police are hoping that witnesses will be able to come forward and help them track down the rapist.
Detective Inspector Grant Dougall said: “This random attack has left the young girl deeply distressed and traumatised.
“It is essential that anyone who was in or around the footpath or cycle path at Crewe Toll around 10pm last night and believes they saw or heard anything out of sorts contacts police immediately.
“She was walking a dog and the dog is safe and well.
“She is very traumatised but is with her family today and is doing well.
“She has provided a good description.
“This sort of attack is not usual and we are putting resources into this with a view to getting this man detained as quickly as we can and there will be heightened police activity in this area.
“On what has happened here alone we are really eager to get a hold of this person.
“He could do anything.”
DI Dougall added that he is keen to speak to a man in his 60s who was walking a black dog in the area.
Police believe he may have seen the victim and suspect and will be able to help.
DI Dougall added: “We would urgently appeal for the male dog-walker to get in touch.
“He may have seen the victim and suspect together and believed the situation to be innocent, however he may be able to provide us with essential information that can help us trace the man responsible for this attack.”
DI Dougall added that the ordeal had lasted as long as 15 minutes before the attacker ran off.
He would not comment on what had interrupted the attack and said they were not linking it to any other sexual assaults.
It is not thought that the girl was still at school.
The suspect is described as being a white male in his mid-20s, 5ft 5ins tall and of a slim build.
He had short dark hair, gaunt face and stubbly complexion.
At the time of the attack he was wearing a black short sleeved top with white writing across the chest and a coloured pattern beneath the writing.
He was also wearing blue Adidas jogging bottoms with white stripes and white trainers with a red symbol on the tongue.
He spoke with a local accent.
The attack has worried residents who said that they had always felt safe in the area.
Local dog walker Karen Borwick, 31, said she usually walked her two pets on the path twice a day but would not do it anymore.
She said: “You feel safe because you have your dogs with you but it goes to show that people don’t care if you have dogs or not.
“I am absolutely shocked, I have lived here all my life and feel safe but I won’t be walking my dogs here alone anymore.”
Yesterday the path remained cordoned off while police searched the bushes running alongside the path.
Anyone with any information should contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131, or Crimestoppers.