Crackdown on gangs after stab death
Police have arrested 17 suspected gang members in a bid to dampen "rising tensions" and prevent reprisal attacks following the murder of a teenager on the UK's busiest shopping street.
Seydou Diarrassouba, 18, was stabbed in the heart after a fight broke out at a Foot Locker sports shoe store on London's Oxford Street on Boxing Day.
Investigators said a number of gangs were present at the time of the killing and were aware of people wanting to "seek retaliation or revenge" for what had happened.
In order to pre-empt any further violence, officers yesterday conducted a series of raids across the capital arresting 17 people for a range of offences including grievous bodily harm, robbery, affray, intent to supply drugs, burglary, forgery and handling stolen goods. A large amount of cash was also seized.
It came after police bailed 11 people arrested over the murder or Mr Diarrassouba. The motive of the attack is yet to be established.
Met Police Commander Mak Chishty said: "We were aware of rising tensions in the wake of the murder and, having monitored the situation closely, including various comments that have been made on social networking sites, we felt it vital we take robust and prompt action in order to pre-empt any potential future violence. We don't want to see any other young person or anyone else lose their lives."
Further raids were expected across the capital. Mr Chishty added: "This is just one of a series of measures we are carrying out in order to enhance the safety of the public and visitors to London. We will continue to aggressively pursue any lawful opportunities against those who choose to become involved in violent crime and thus protect potential future victims, in line with the Commissioner's pledge on total policing."
Mr Diarrassouba, from Mitcham, south west London, died from a single stab wound which pierced his heart.
A number of weapons were recovered at the scene and police have said they are particularly interested in obtaining videos of the fight shot on camera phones. Another youth was stabbed on the same street just a few hours later.
The 11 people arrested earlier this week - two 22-year-olds, five 19-year-olds, three 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old - have been bailed to dates in mid-January. Those arrested in Friday's raids, which took place at properties in Merton, Wandsworth, Southwark and Westminster, remain in custody at various London police stations.