UK & World News

  • 20 June 2014, 14:34

Colchester Police Hunt 'Brutal' Murderer

Police have promised to "unrelentingly" pursue all lines of inquiry as they continue to investigate the brutal murder of a Saudi Arabian student who was stabbed 16 times.

Nahid Almanea was walking along a path in Colchester, Essex, on Tuesday morning when she was attacked.

Police are investigating whether the 31-year-old's clothing - an abaya robe and hijab headscarf - was a factor in the stabbing, but stressed they do not yet know for sure.

There are other possible motives, officers say, but they are calling for calm, and have confirmed they are investigating threats of revenge attacks made on social media.

Police have warned people not to go out alone and to be vigilant.

The fact that she was stabbed multiple times bore "obvious similarities" to the murder of James Attfield, a vulnerable man with brain damage, the force said.

He was stabbed more than 100 times in a park in Colchester in March, but Essex Police stressed the cases remain separate investigations.

Sky's Emma Birchley, who is at the scene of Ms Almanea's murder, said: "The police presence is enormous, there are police cars patrolling everywhere, not just here close to the scene."

Chief Inspector Richard Phillibrown said: "I see this murder as an attack on the entire community of Colchester and I believe we will all pull together to respond to it.

"I am confident that the vast majority of people in this town will pay no attention to those trying to stir up trouble."

He added: "What we would also ask is for people to look out for each other, for neighbours to keep an eye on the vulnerable and for everyone to remain vigilant."

In a joint statement, Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh and Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said: "We would urge everyone to work with Essex Police, who will, supported by local communities, do everything possible to find the person or people responsible for both these awful crimes.

"I know that everyone in Colchester will come together, and remain strong and united in ensuring that the town and the district continues to be safe and welcoming to all."

Ms Almanea, who has been described as a "very intelligent" student, had been studying an English language course at the University of Essex as part of her studies for a life sciences PhD.

A 52-year-old man arrested in connection with the incident has been released after police said he had been positively eliminated from their enquiries.

CCTV footage taken from a newsagent, which shows Ms Almanea's last movements as she headed towards the footpath, has been released.

Police have also released a map of her likely route from nearby Woodrow Way to the Salary Brook trail where she was stabbed, as well as a photograph of the bag she was carrying.

Officers said Ms Almanea would usually walk to the university with her brother, who she also lived with.

But because he had earlier lectures that day she was walking alone.

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