Detectives investigating the murder of a Saudi Arabian student who was stabbed 16 times as she walked to Essex University have arrested a 19-year-old man.
The teenager, from Colchester, was initially arrested overnight on Thursday after a woman reported that a man had attempted to grab her as she jogged in the town.
He was then arrested shortly after 4pm on Friday in connection with the investigation into the murder of Nahid Almanea, who was knifed to death on Tuesday.
Essex police said the man was initially arrested just after midnight on Friday over a separate assault. “His arrest followed a report from a woman that while she was jogging near Peache Road, Colchester, at around 10pm on Thursday June 19, a man had approached her and tried to grab her,” police said in a statement.
“She was able to fight him off and made her way home and then immediately contacted police. Police searched the area and a man was subsequently arrested and taken into police custody. Following further enquiries he was then further arrested shortly after 4pm today in connection with the murder investigation. He remains in custody for questioning.”
Earlier on Friday, detectives warned against concluding that the murder was a hate crime.
In an attempt to calm tensions over the unexplained attack, Essex police chief constable Stephen Kavanagh and Nick Alston, the Essex police and crime commissioner, said jumping to conclusions was “deeply unhelpful, wrong and dangerous”.
The statement came a day after police confirmed that they were investigating whether Almanea was targeted because her full-length robe and hijab headscarf marked her out as a Muslim.
Almanea, a 31-year-old PhD student who arrived in Britain at the beginning of the year, had been walking alone to the Essex University campus at about 11am on Tuesday when she was attacked.
Detectives have not ruled out a link between the student’s murder and that of James Attfield, who was stabbed more than 100 times in an unexplained attack in nearby Colchester Castle park on 29 March.
The killing has sparked threats of violent revenge on social media websites, which police officers are monitoring as part of the murder investigation. One of the threats came from a jihadist purportedly fighting in Syria.
The Twitter account of Abu Rashash Britani, which has been suspended, called for a “revenge attack in the UK against those enemies of Islam n [sic] Muslims” and added: “These kuffar [non-Muslims] getting out of hand, dare they touch a #Muslimah. I call upon any brother to take up a knife and kill as they did #colchester”.
Sara Khan, director of the British Muslim women’s rights organisation Inspire, expressed surprise at police for saying within hours of the murder that it may have been religiously motivated. “I think it was slightly premature to say that until they have concrete evidence to prove that was the case.”
Khan said she had been contacted by British Muslim women concerned about being abused in the street in the wake of the murder. “We get a lot of women telling us on a daily basis how they fear doing ordinary things like standing at a bus stop. Especially when anything anti-Muslim is in the media, you see this spike of abuse. It’s incredibly worrying,” she said.
“I’ve had social media contact [from British Muslim women] saying: ‘We are fearful. It’s going to make us extra anxious for the next couple of weeks while the story is in the press.’ It’s a real fear that they have.”
via – http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jun/20/colchester-police-arrest-man-muslim-student-murder-essex-university?CMP=twt_gu