Gang battle theory after boy, 17, is found beaten to death in park

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The Independent Online

Three people have been arrested over the latest killing on a bank holiday weekend that left three dead and three in a critical condition.

Amar Aslam, 17, was found beaten to death in a park in Dewsbury, west Yorkshire, on Sunday evening. His father, Raja, was making arrangements to fly back from Pakistan yesterday as a post-mortem examination confirmed that his son died as a result of head injuries in what police called a "sustained and brutal attack".

It is feared that Amar may have been the victim of violence between gangs who waged running battles in the park.

Police are investigating whether there is a link between the boy's death and the fighting. A source close to the victim's family said: "Stuff went on in the park between different gangs of youths during the day. There was fighting. There is a belief that there may be a link between that and the murder of this young man.

"It's possible that what happened to this boy was a continuation of that violence. His family are absolutely distraught."

Shahid Malik, the MP for Dewsbury and International Development minister, whose home is closeminutes from Crow Nest Park, where Amar's body was found, said the two 15-year-old boys and a 20-year-old man who were being questioned by officers last night were also of Asian origin.

Appealing for calm, the Labour MP said: "The thoughts and prayers of the people of Dewsbury and the country are with the family of this young man at this tragic and truly devastating time. It is crucial that people put their faith in the police and not jump to any conclusions."

A spokesman for the West Yorkshire force said: "We are still looking at a possible motive, so we cannot link the boy's death to anything else at this moment. We are looking at whether anything else happened in the park yesterday, and, if it did, whether he was involved in it."

The Yorkshire town is still feeling the effects of another teenage death five months ago. Ahmed Hassan, also 17, died from a single stab wound to the back as he waited at Dewsbury rail station. Michael Brook, 18, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named, are in custody awaiting trial for murder. Ahmed was described as a model sixth-former.

The bank holiday violence began on Saturday night, when 18-year-old Robert Knox, who recently won a role in the latest Harry Potter film, was stabbed to death outside a pub in Sidcup, Kent. Police last night charged Karl Norman Bishop, a 21-year old, with his murder.

Visiting the crime scene on Sunday – which is just a few miles from the bakery where 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen was murdered a fortnight earlier – the young actor's family called for tougher sentences to be used against young people who were caught carrying knives.

Hours after Mr Knox was attacked, a similar incident in Bristol left another man dead. Alan Riddock, 41, died in hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning after being stabbed outside the Park House pub in the Bedminster area of the city. Three men were arrested and remain in custody in connection with the attack on his doorstep.

Police in London have been dealing with a further spate of incidents over the long weekend which left three people fighting for their lives in hospital. On Saturday, another boy, also 17, was found in Camden with a gunshot wound to the head.

On Sunday, a 19-year-old man was stabbed near East Ham Tube station. A second man, also 19, who was found nearby suffering from head injuries, was arrested and spent last night recovering in hospital.