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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Killer gang battle amid sales rush

14:20 |

London police are investigating the fatal stabbing of a man during post-Christmas sales on one of the world's most famous shopping streets in an incident that has renewed fears about gang violence.

Officers arrested 11 people after the 18-year-old man was knifed to death on the British capital's Oxford Street. And three people were detained after a second but non-fatal stabbing nearby hours later.

The murder happened after a fight between groups of youths at a Foot Locker store in front of thousands of shoppers flocking to December 26 sales.

The area was cordoned off for hours after the incident and police found a number of weapons.

"This all happened outside Foot Locker and inside the Foot Locker store," senior Scotland Yard detective John Sweeney said yesterday. "There were several people who witnessed this event ... and a number of them recorded it on cameraphones. We are particularly interested in those people coming forward to let us have access to footage."

The dead youth was named by a friend as Seydou Diarrassouba from Mitcham, a tough area in south London.

Video footage on YouTube showed police holding back angry youths at the Foot Locker store as paramedics tried to revive the victim.

Police also confirmed that an officer had used a Taser stun gun during the confrontation.

In a second stabbing under six hours later and a few hundred yards away, a 21-year-old victim suffered leg wounds.

Police said shoppers should not feel unsafe and that they already had a large number of officers in the area around Oxford Street, which is said to be Europe's busiest shopping street.

It is home to more than 300 shops including Selfridges department store, and attracts tens of thousands of shoppers seeking bargains after Christmas.

But the violence has revived memories of deadly riots that rocked London and other English cities in August, when groups of masked youths looted and burned shops and five people were killed.

British authorities blamed street gangs for much of the violence, and Prime Minister David Cameron enlisted a US street crime expert to help find a solution.

Commentators said the Oxford Street death symbolized a national problem.

"The murder at the sales is a perfect snapshot of UK 2011 - casual slaughter, grotesque materialism and boys who do not know how to be men," novelist Tony Parsons wrote on Twitter.

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