A YOUNG man was sexually assaulted and his friend beaten by a gang of knife-brandishing muggers earlier today.

The victims, aged 25 and 26, were outside Metro Bank at around 1.45am on Monday, August 7.

They were talking to two men, one was white, around 5ft 10 ins tall with auburn or dark hair with a stocky build.

He had a bicycle and a thin moustache. He is thought to be in his early 20s.

The other was white with a medium build and a similar height. He had very short hair and wore a grey tracksuit jumper with a hood.

The victims left the scene and walked to Greyfriars Road via West Street.

They were stopped by the duo from earlier outside the bank. The two earlier men were with up to another seven men.

The two groups began to argue and a man from the larger group began brandishing a knife.

The 25-year-old was then punched by a mixed-race man.

His friend fled the scene pursued by four white men.

They caught him on Vastern Road and demanded money, frogmarching him to Caversham Road.

They took him to a cash machine and were joined by a fifth white man on a bicycle.

The victim tried to withdraw money before again running from the gang.

They chased him to Thames Path where they seriously sexually assaulted him.

A 20-year-old man from Reading was arrested on suspicion of rape on Tuesday and has been released under investigation.

The force is still appealing to anyone with any information to call 101 and quote reference number 43170233016.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector David Turton of Force CID based at Reading police station, said: “These are two extremely serious offences which are being thoroughly investigated.

"There was a scenewatch in place at Thames Path but this has now been lifted, however further enquiries are ongoing including obtaining and reviewing CCTV.

"Our priority is the welfare of the victims who are being supported by specially trained officers at this time.

"I would appeal to anyone who believes they have any information about the offences, no matter how insignificant you think it might be, to please contact police immediately."