Police carried out a string of raids on suspected gang members yesterday as they continued to hunt for the killer of a teenager who was stabbed in Oxford Street on Boxing Day.
Seydou Diarrassouba, 18, from Mitcham, south London, was knifed to death in a fight at a branch of Foot Locker. The raids took place amid fears that gang members might carry out retaliatory attacks.
The operation in four London boroughs – Merton, Southwark, Westminster and Wandsworth – led to the arrests of 13 people on suspicion of offences including grievous bodily harm, robbery, affray, intent to supply drugs, burglary, forgery and handling stolen goods. Eleven other people were arrested and bailed earlier this week.
Commander Mak Chishty, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We were aware of rising tensions in the wake of the murder and, having monitored the situation closely, including various comments that have been made on social networking sites, we felt it vital [to] take robust, prompt action in order to pre-empt potential future violence. We don't want to see any other young person or anyone else lose their life."
The motive for the brawl at Foot Locker remains unclear but Mr Chishty said several gangs were present at the time. Weapons were found at the scene and officers are keen to see any photos of the fight taken on camera phones.
Yesterday, the teenager's family said he was a "loving son and brother" and that "life seems meaningless" after his death. They added: "A simple shopping trip has turned into a complete nightmare for our whole family. All we can say is 'Why?' He had so much consideration for others. We want Seydou to be remembered as the loving, down-to-earth, respectful and charismatic young man he was."
The family urged witnesses to pass any information they have to police. A Facebook page "R.I.P. Seydou" has received dozens of tributes from the victim's friends and condemnation of youth violence.