Belfast Telegraph

Belfast flat link to stabbing death

Detectives believe a man stabbed to death on a popular Belfast shopping street may have been involved in an altercation in a nearby flat that spilled outside.

The victim, thought to be from Pakistan, was found lying dead with multiple stab wounds on Botanic Avenue shortly after 5am.

Another man, who is aged in his 30s and is originally from Africa, was arrested close to the body. Two knives were found at the murder scene.

The suspect had sustained minor injuries.

The detective leading the investigation said officers are still working to positively identify the victim.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Chief Inspector Richard Campbell said the investigation was at a very early stage and he had an "open mind" in regard to motive.

"The victim's nationality is still being confirmed though initial enquiries suggest he is Pakistani," the senior officer said.

"The victim had been stabbed a number of times and he died at the scene as a result of his injuries."

Botanic Avenue sits between the university area and the city centre and its many shops, coffee houses, eateries and bars draw many people to the area every day.

But it was almost deserted today after police sealed off the area to enable forensic investigators to examine the murder scene, which was at the corner of Cameron Street.

The usually busy Botanic rail station was closed, with trains not stopping to collect or drop off passengers.

Mr Campbell said a flat on nearby India Street had also been cordoned off.

"It appears there has been some sort of altercation possibly in that flat which has then spilt out onto the street and ended up with the murder in Botanic," he said.

South Belfast MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell described the murder as a "gruesome and horrifying crime".

"This was a violent and vicious attack in an area that is home to families and students," said the SDLP representative.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family and friends as they learn of the tragic loss of a loved one. This is a close knit community and I know that they will rally around them in the days and weeks ahead."

Assembly member for the area Anna Lo expressed her sympathies to the family of the murdered man.

"I would condemn whoever is responsible for this man's death in the strongest possible manner," said the Alliance MLA.

"Local people are shocked at what has taken place. Botanic Avenue is a very popular area visited by many people who will be very saddened by this incident.

"My thoughts and sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victim. This will undoubtedly be a very difficult time for them."

Sinn Fein councillor Deirdre Hargey also expressed her shock.

"While the circumstances of the man's death are unclear at this time, the PSNI have stated that they are treating the death as murder," she said.

"I would encourage anyone who may have information which may assist the police to bring it forward."

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