The British Pakistani teenager was due to start a mechanical engineering course at Stratford College, east London, the day after he died. His family said he was hugely excited about beginning his course.
The killing is another example of Britain's growing knife culture and follows an incident last week in Wokingham, Berkshire, in which two teenagers, aged 14 and 16, were stabbed to death in a quiet woodland area.
Police believe up to 12 Asian youths became embroiled in the fight that began with Kashif and one other boy. CCTV footage shows Kashif walking into the subway near Ilford town centre at 5pm on Tuesday, where the two boys began to fight. About 12 others joined the altercation and Kashif was stabbed.
Detective Chief Inspector Keith Garnish, the senior investigating officer, said: "What appears to have started off as a normal schoolboy dispute ended tragically in loss of life. This kind of incident shows that carrying weapons can ruin lives."
He said there was no evidence that the death was a result of gang violence or that Kashif was part of a gang. There was also no suggestion that his death was racially motivated.
Det Ch Insp Garnish added that up to 30 passers-by saw the incident, and some took mobile phone images. Ten of them came forward to the police. One 18-year-old who attended the police station was later arrested and bailed to return on 5 November.
Det Ch Insp Garnish said he was confident that the CCTV images would lead to an eventual prosecution. He added: "Everyone is concerned by the large number of youths carrying knives. If someone had not been carrying a knife in this incident, this young man would not be dead."
Family and friends gathered outside Kashif's home to pay their respects to his parents and younger sister and brother. Kashif's uncle said his Pakistani-born father, a taxi driver, and English-born mother, a driving instructor, were said to be devastated by the loss.
The uncle described Kashif as a friendly, sporty boy who was passionate about football and kung fu and had ambitions to become an engineer. He said the family had taken an extended holiday in Pakistan in July and that the teenager spoke fluently in Punjabi as well as English.
The family had moved six months ago from Stepney, east London, to their five-bedroom home.
Tabassum Hussain, 26, a family friend who came from Oldham to pay his respects, described the Mahmoods as a close-knit family and said Kashif was "in the wrong place at the wrong time".
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