Two women killed in 'frenzied attack'

Two young women were savagely beaten and stabbed to death in their city centre flat in Birmingham, police said yesterday.

The victims, in their early twenties, were found by the concierge of the block of flats after being alerted by their families who had been trying to contact them.

Detectives were questioning a 28-year-old man yesterday who was arrested as he tried to board a ferry at Dover just hours after the bodies were found. He was believed to have known at least one of the women but was not related to them, police said.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Mirfield said the women had been subjected to a "sustained, frenzied attack" over the weekend. He said there was a substantial amount of blood inside a number of the rooms and the flat had been ransacked. There was no sign of forced entry.

West Midlands Police said relatives were being comforted by family liaison officers.

Forensics officers were searching the area around Jupiter Apartments, used mainly by young professionals and students. The flats, just a short distance from where Gordon Brown held his cabinet meeting at the International Convention Centre last week, are close to a deprived inner city area.

One resident, Emily Smith, 27, said: "It's shocking. It normally feels very safe and we are supposed to be getting a security guard because the complex backs on to a rough part of the city." The owner of another flat, Simon Crisp, 29, said: "You hear about these sort of incidents in the rundown areas of Birmingham, but not around here. It really is quite shocking."

Superintendent Matt Ward, who is in charge of the city centre policing area, reassured residents that the area remained safe. He said: "Although this is a tragic and horrendous crime, at this stage we believe it to be an isolated incident.

"Local officers are working with colleagues from the major investigation unit to protect and secure a number of scenes."

At the building, Heni Norman, 24, said lots of students and Chinese people lived at the flats. She said that although she had seen windows smashed and had her car broken into, nothing of this scale had happened in the two years since the complex was built.

The Rev Simon Ramsay, from the nearby Unitarian church, said there was a "great disparity" between the upmarket Jupiter Apartments and nearby deprived inner-city areas. He said: "We've housing association houses, council houses and people who are living a completely different lifestyle to these people living over this side in luxury apartments."

He said there was a mixture foreign students and business people living in the complex.