Indian student shot dead on visit to Manchester

Racial motive investigated in attack on Indian man spending Christmas with friends

An Indian university student studying in Britain was shot dead in an apparently motiveless attack during a Christmas visit with friends to Manchester.

The 23-year-old victim, who has not been named, was gunned down at close range following a "very short" conversation with two men in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Police said the gunman shot the student in the side of the head about a minute after approaching him near a McDonald's at 1.35am yesterday. He then ran into the nearby Ordsall estate.

The Lancaster University student was taken to hospital but later died from his injuries. He was part of a group of nine male and female students from India who were staying at a hotel in the city for the Christmas holidays.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said there was nothing at present to indicate the attack was part of a robbery or was racially motivated, but declined to disclose details of the conversation that preceded the shooting.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, divisional commander for Salford, said: "This appears to be an unprovoked attack and we can't establish a motive at this time." Police said they would be stepping up patrols in the area with an increased presence of officers in the coming days.

Mr Mulligan said: "This young man was simply visiting Manchester with his friends and has been killed and his family deserve to see those responsible brought to justice." The victim's parents had been informed while the students who were with him were "in a safe place" with police after providing witness statements. The victim was a post-graduate electronics student.

In recent years, Lancaster University has been developing ties with India, which is seen as a prime market for Britain's higher-education sector. In 2009 the university launched a new campus near Delhi offering British degrees to local students.

GMP Chief Constable Peter Fahy warned earlier this year against complacency in the city's battle against gang-related gun crime, which resulted in it being dubbed Gunchester a decade ago.

In 2010, after the introduction of the dedicated anti-gun taskforce Xcalibre, there were 45 shootings recorded – compared with 131 in 2003-04. Of those, only three were gang-related compared with 13 in the previous year.

A recent upsurge in violence has been focused on south Manchester, which police said was not linked to the dismantling of the notorious Gooch gang. But senior officers said that weapons are still available in the city.

The gunman is described as white, in his mid-20s and of a slim build.