Boy, 15, knifed in heart in racist attack

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The Independent Online

A black schoolboy was critically ill yesterday after being stabbed through the heart by two white men in a racist attack on a rush-hour bus.

A black schoolboy was critically ill yesterday after being stabbed through the heart by two white men in a racist attack on a rush-hour bus.

The 15-year-old, who was with three friends, was tripped, punched, kicked and stabbed as he went down the stairs of the 171 bus in Brockley, south London. He managed to run across the road, but collapsed in a shop where the owner tried to stop the flow of blood.

The attackers, who taunted the boy's friends from the bus, stayed on for several more stops, witnesses said.

The boy was moved from intensive care yesterday, three days after the attack, and his condition was said to be critical but stable".

Police said the men had started making racist remarks as soon as the boys boarded the top deck of the 171 bus and sat down in the back seats, but the boys, all aged about 15, had ignored them.

As they started to leave, however, the victim, who was last in line, was pushed to the floor by the two men, who were sitting on either side of the aisle.

He was stabbed with a red and silver knife as he tried to flee down the stairs. One of his friends who got off with him phoned 999 and yelled at the attacker staring from the bus, witnesses said.

Bidhen Brahmbhatt, 38, who was locking up his business nearby, said: "The boy was lying in the shop while his mate was was yelling, 'You're a racist, you stabbed my mate'. The bus was stationary because of traffic. The white guy he was shouting at was making gestures and spreading his arms as if to say, 'What are you going to do about it?' There was another person behind him trying to pull him away."

The owner of the shop, a dry cleaner, at first thought the injured boy was a burglar until he saw the blood stain on his grey T-shirt. Zaff Yesilada, 38, said the boy had been stabbed once. "All he said was, "I've been stabbed'. I tried to stop the bleeding. But he was losing too much blood. I was trying to comfort him, not let him go, and tell him he would be all right but he was saying he couldn't breathe. He was in so much of a panic. He had just run for his life and he was almost unconscious. He had a big wound right in the centre of his chest."

Witnesses said they saw one of the victim's friends also had a knife he tried to hide in a large rubbish bin. He later gave it to police. Some passengers have come forward but police appealed for more witnesses. The bus was not fitted with CCTV. By March 2003, a third of London's 6,000 buses will be fitted with cameras. Eventually, all will have them.

Detective Inspector Tim Carter said: "There was no suggestion of provocation." The attackers were described as between 18 and 25, one with cropped hair, a hooded top and trainers, the other with dark stubble and long brown hair.