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Woman charged with assault in potato peeler fracas

Chef Neil Wyles initially thought news of an arrest of a 25-year old woman in Vancouver for assault with a potato peeler was a joke. He does not regard a potato peeler as much of a weapon.

But Mr. Wyles is also painfully aware of the potential of a potato peeler to cause some real harm. "I often skin the back of my finger with a potato peeler," Mr. Wyles said in a brief interview Tuesday while cooking lunch at the steakhouse, the Hamilton Street Grill, located about four blocks from where the assault allegedly took place.

Newer potato peelers with foam handles and plastic support are designed to minimize damage from accidents. But the old-fashioned metal peelers are similar to an exposed razor blade, he said. "Your old-school potato peeler [with a]metal handle, if you use it like a stabbing weapon, you could inflict some damage," he said. "If you use it like a knife, your average potato peeler, your standard domestic one, you could puncture someone with it."

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Yurub Mohammed Arte, 25, was charged Monday with assault with a weapon after stabbing a woman she knew with a potato peeler following a shouting match in a nightclub in the heart of Vancouver's entertainment district.

The incident may be the first time that anyone in Vancouver has been charged with assault with a potato peeler.

"I've seen some strange cases over the years with assaults with any number of things used as a weapon," Constable Jana McGuinness, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Police Department, said in an interview Tuesday.

But she could not think of another case with a potato peeler, she said.

"Anything used for an assault - a hairbrush, a rock or a baseball bat - could be considered a weapon," Constable McGuinness also said. "If it is intended to inflict harm, that could be a weapon," she said.

The incident began shortly after midnight Monday. The Republic nightclub's regular Monday evening entertainers - a musical group called Young, Rich and Famous - had been playing hip-hop, top 40 and party-rock classics. Five-dollar tequila shots were the featured drinks at the club that night.

Ms. Arte, who police say came to Canada from Somalia, became involved in "a verbal altercation" with a 20-year-old woman inside the club. The two women knew each other and had "a history" with each other. The exchange was fuelled by alcohol.

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The two women were ejected from the club. On the street, Ms. Arte allegedly bit the 20-year-old woman on the left breast and then sliced her left ear with the potato peeler. Staff from the club intervened and held Ms. Arte until police arrived.

The victim's ear bled heavily. However medical staff at the hospital said the injury was minor. After receiving medical treatment for her ear injury and bite wound, the victim was released from hospital.

Police have not yet determined how Ms. Arte obtained the potato peeler. Constable McGuinness was not prepared to release any details about the type of potato peeler.

Police also refused to release the name of the victim. Neither women had criminal records, Constable McGuinness said.

Ms. Arte was held in jail over night and expected to be released today. Her first court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 6.

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