A man was slashed and severely wounded late last night in the Langley Park area of Prince George's County in an attack that was the third of its kind there in less than a week and raised the possibility of gang involvement.
Police said that the man's hand was partially severed and that they were trying to find out whether a weapon such as a machete was used.
A police spokeswoman said it was too early to determine whether gangs figured in the attack or whether the slashing had links to the earlier incidents. Investigators will look into both possibilities, she said.
But other officers, who declined last night to be identified because the case was under investigation, said they understood that a lookout had been issued for a man who may have been a member of MS-13.
The group, also known a Mara Salvatrucha, is a violent Latino gang that has members across the country and that has been implicated in a variety of attacks in the area in recent years.
The victim in last night's attack, who was not identified by name, appeared to be Hispanic and in his twenties, police said. They said he was found about 10:25 p.m. in the 1300 block of Langley Way, a residential street that is within sight of the mall parking lot where two Hispanic men were fatally slashed last week.
The man apparently had been slashed two or three blocks away in the 8000 block of 15th Avenue, according to police accounts.
After the attack, he apparently began walking or running but collapsed on Langley Way, according to officers at the scene early this morning.
In addition to the hand wound, the man also suffered cuts to his face, police said. He was taken to a hospital for treatment. Initial reports described his condition as critical. Police later said he was in stable condition.
No motive in the attack could be learned, and as of early this morning, no arrest was reported.
Early Wednesday, three men who had been asleep were attacked in a parking lot in the 8100 block of New Hampshire Avenue in Langley Park, within a few hundred yards of the scene of last night's attack. Two of the men, both of Latino origin, were killed. The third, who was not identified, was severely wounded.
That attack occurred at a place where men were known to gather, drink beer and sleep. It is near a shopping area at New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard.
On Friday night, a 17-year-old girl was attacked with what police described as a sharp instrument in a Langley Park community center parking lot near 15th Avenue. The site is about a half-mile from where the two men were killed.
The Maryland-National Capital Park Police, who have jurisdiction over the site where the girl was wounded in the neck, said her assailants appeared to be Latino youths.
The extent of any possible connections between any of the attacks remained unclear last night.
The day after the attack on the 17-year-old, a spokesman for the Maryland park police said that that slashing "very well could be" gang-related.
Residents of the area near the community center said they believed violence was on the rise there. They said it was a gathering place for gang members whom they characterized as increasingly brazen and intimidating.
However, on the day of the killings near the shopping area, county police said they did not believe them to be gang-related.
Concern about the possibility of gang involvement in the recent knifings has risen in the Maryland suburbs after Aug. 5 incidents in Montgomery County that left six teenagers wounded. Police have blamed members of MS-13 for those attacks.
Although the recent attacks in Prince George's were close to the Montgomery border, they were several miles from the sites of the earlier knife attacks in Montgomery, which occurred in the Colesville area and in Wheaton.