French students in London were stabbed repeatedly

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The two French students were subjected to a frenzied, brutal and horrific attack where one of them was stabbed nearly 200 times.

3 July 2008

LONDON - Two French students found stabbed to death in a burning London flat were subjected to a "frenzied, brutal and horrific attack," police said Thursday, adding they are at a loss to explain the killings.

The bound and battered bodies of Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, both 23, were found in the ground-floor bedsit (studio) in New Cross, southeast London, on Sunday when emergency services were called to the fire and an explosion.

Bonomo was stabbed nearly 200 times while Ferez suffered around 50 wounds during a prolonged ordeal, unidentified police sources quoted by the domestic Press Association news agency said.

The detective leading the investigation said they were dead before the fire took hold, adding they were knifed in the head, neck, torso and back.

"The extent of the injuries are horrific," Detective Chief Inspector Mick Duthie said.

"I have never seen injuries like this throughout my career. We are here today because I don't know why these boys were killed or who killed them."

Duthie appealed for witnesses to come forward to help explain "a frenzied, brutal and horrific attack".

As a forensic search of the scene continued, Duthie said the two scholars - both biochemists from a university in Clermont-Ferrand, central France - were on a short exchange programme at London's Imperial College.

They were due to return home at the end of this month.

At the scene, police guarded the front door of the 1980s flat in a leafy cul-de-sac and tarpaulin covered a broken window. When the wind blew the tarpaulin up, it revealed several broken windows and a charred sofa inside.

"A Spanish woman who lives in the block told me she had seen two men banging on their window" from the outside, said Christina Ramires, 32, a Brazilian journalist who lives on the same floor as the flat.

"The Spanish woman said they were wearing hats ... then she heard a very strong sound, a bomb."

The deaths coincided with growing concern about knife crime and gang culture in London, which newly elected Conservative mayor Boris Johnson and Metropolitan Police chief Ian Blair have vowed to tackle.

Police and the Home Office say overall knife crime in London is falling.

But 17 teenagers have been knifed to death so far this year - already more than half the total number for the last 12 months.

The lawyer wife of former prime minister Tony Blair, Cherie Booth, told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that knife crime was more prevalent than figures suggested, and blades were being carried at a younger age.

Earlier this year, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith - who until recently lived in Peckham, a centre for London's large west African community - said she was too scared to walk the streets alone at night.

[AFP / Expatica]

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