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'Three key individuals' still sought after attack on teenage asylum seeker

Police are still hunting three people who may have been involved in a brutal attack on a 17-year-old asylum seeker.

Kurdish Iranian student Reker Ahmed was beaten and kicked by a gang of around 30 while waiting at a bus stop in Croydon, south London, with two friends.

Community leaders, police and local Kurdish people gathered at the scene in Shrublands Avenue on Wednesday.

A total of 16 people have been arrested and 13, including a 15-year-old boy, charged with offences including attempted murder and violent disorder.

The Metropolitan Police believe three "key individuals" are still at large and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe said: "We have arrested 16 people, 13 have been charged.

"There are three more key individuals believed to have played a part and we are appealing for people to continue to come forward."

Extra officers have been deployed to patrol the area to try to reassure residents after the attack on Friday morning, he added.

The victim's brother, Hadi Ahmed, said Reker did not recognise him when he visited him in London's King's College Hospital.

Family friend Abdullah Abdullah said the teenager's face was "black and blue" when he went to see him on Tuesday.

"He was very bad, his face had been smashed very badly," he said.

"He has lost his memory because when his brother went to hug him, he was crying, and he said 'Why are you crying? What's the reason?'

"He couldn't recognise me as well. Mentally he is not well."

Rebaz Mohammed, a Kurdish community leader, demanded justice for Reker.

"We're feeling very disappointed but the police and community are all coming together to crack down on racism," he said.

"We want everyone to co-operate with the police and we want justice and care for Reker.

"It will be with him for the rest of his life, we're concentrating on the best care for this kid."

"There's not enough support for asylum seekers who come over, especially young people in London, they need help to integrate," he added.

Croydon Central Tory MP Gavin Barwell compared the brutal attack to the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence at a bus stop in 1993.

"Comparing the police response to that and this case - already we've seen a number of people charged," he said.

"The police response sends a very clear message to the community and anyone else tempted to behave like this - this won't be tolerated."

Croydon borough councillor Tony Newman branded the attack "utterly horrific" and said there is a "real sense of outrage" across the community.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Reker Ahmed came to this country seeking refuge and safety but last Friday he got the exact opposite.

"He was set upon violently in an attack by people here locally, he was very, very badly hurt and thankfully is starting to recover."

He added that the attack "doesn't represent Britain or Croydon" and said: "When something like this does happen we must do everything we can possibly do to apprehend those that were responsible for this appalling and unacceptable crime."

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