A woman has sustained face and head injuries after being dragged into a car and subjected to a savage attack that left her needing emergency hospital treatment.
Her terrifying ordeal - described as "every woman's worst nightmare" - began when the 35-year-old was bundled into a silver Ford car in the Hilltown area of south Down yesterday morning.
The car was driven to Katesbridge - approximately eight miles away - where the victim managed to escape from her assailant.
She raised the alarm at a nearby house as her attacker ran off.
The victim was then taken by ambulance to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, where she received treatment for face and head injuries.
In what police believe was a related development, a stolen green Mercedes crashed into several vehicles on the M1 motorway on-slip at Sprucefield, causing traffic chaos during the morning rush hour.
Police had been monitoring the movements of the Mercedes, which had earlier been stolen from a location in the Banbridge area. Police said they were working on the assumption the woman's abduction and the M1 crash were linked.
On Saturday morning they charged a 29-year-old man with various offences including kidnapping, false imprisonment and attempted robbery.
The suspect was due to appear at Newry Magistrates Court this morning.
South Down SDLP MLA Karen McKevitt said people in the area were stunned at the brutality of the attack.
"This is a shocking incident. Absolutely shocking," she told the Belfast Telegraph. "Being dragged into a car and assaulted is every woman's worst nightmare.
"It makes you wonder - what would you do if it happened to you? This is very scary stuff. It's horrendous. My thoughts and prayers - and those of people all across the south Down area - are with this poor woman,
"I'm praying she will recover quickly from her dreadful ordeal."
PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Wright is urging witnesses to the incidents to come forward.
He said: "We are investigating a report of a 35-year-old female being assaulted by a man in the Hilltown area early this morning and being forced into a silver Ford car.
"The car was driven to Knockgorm Road in Katesbridge where the female made off and sought help. Her assailant also made off from the area."
He added: "The female victim sustained injuries to her face and head which required medical treatment."
SDLP councillor Michael Carr said the woman's ordeal was sickening.
"I utterly condemn this appalling incident," he said.
"I hope this lady makes a speedy recovery from the injuries she received in this traumatic incident."
The councillor also appealed for anyone with any information to contact police.