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Terrified victim hid after mugging
Police have released an image of a battered elderly woman who hid in her home for days after being attacked by a gang of young muggers.
The 79-year-old suffered horrific bruises when she was set upon by four males in broad daylight after visiting a supermarket in Tameside, Greater Manchester.
She was repeatedly punched in the head by the gang who demanded money and cigarettes.
Following the ordeal she could not leave her home for a number of days as she feared a repeat attack, and did not report the incident to police as she was worried the robbers would find her.
But after a few days she was visited by her daughter who discovered what had happened and posted a picture of her mother's injuries on Facebook, appealing for help in catching the culprits.
Officers from Greater Manchester Police saw the post and were able to trace the victim and launch an investigation.
The elderly woman believes she was attacked at around 11am on one of the first days of the year, but detectives say she is unable to be more specific.
The incident took place after she had visited Tesco on Mancunian Way, Haughton Green.
As she walked down this road she was approached by four males who asked her for a cigarette.
When she told them she did have any they demanded money and rifled through her pockets before landing several blows to her head.
Despite being knocked down to her knees they continued to punch her before running off empty-handed into nearby playing fields.
The ring-leader is described as possibly mixed-race with a lighter coloured face, in his mid-20s, 5ft 11in tall, slim build with short black cropped hair.
He was wearing red gloves similar to rubber kitchen gloves, mud-stained jeans and a coat.
Police said a second offender was white, pale and "thuggish-looking". He was shorter, appeared to be in his late teens, of more muscular build and was wearing green rubber gloves. The other two males were also white and in their early teens.
Detective Inspector Richard Ennis said: "This poor victim was so distraught by what happened that she essentially shut herself away from the world, fearing that these horrible muggers would find her.
"Thankfully her daughter paid her a visit and was at least able to offer some solace."
He went on: " These young men ruthlessly beat a lone elderly woman. Two of them appear to be quite young, but they were clearly led by two older men.
"I also want to appeal direct to both the offenders and their families - please look at the picture and imagine it's your own grandma or mum. You wouldn't want your loved ones to end up like this.
"If you feel uneasy by what happened then please call the police."
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 9484 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.