Call for calm as community rocked by two fatal stabbings in Newham
- Credit: Jon King
A faith leader has pledged the community will be protected after two teenagers were stabbed to death within days of each other.
Fares Maatou was fatally wounded outside a pizza restaurant in Barking Road, Canning Town, on Friday, April 23.
A 14-year-old boy has been charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon over the fatal stabbing. He is due to appear at the Old Bailey tomorrow.
Three days after the first incident, on Monday, April 26, an 18-year-old man was killed in a second fatal stabbing a mile away in Coolfin Road, Custom House. The police have yet to identify the victim.
Imam Ammaar Domun, of UKIM Masjid Ibrahim and Islamic Centre in Barking Road, helped to organise a march on Saturday in solidarity with Fares' family.
"We also wanted to send a strong message that this is our community and we will look after it and protect it," Imam Ammaar said.
To young people, he added: "These are your streets and as a community, we care about you."
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Youngsters have gathered at the scene of both crimes to lay flowers and comfort each other.
Mizanur Rahman was returning from work when he saw police in Barking Road on Friday.
"It's not safe anymore. My younger brother is 14. I am so worried about him," Mr Rahman said.
One mum, who asked only to be named as Toni, said people in the neighbourhood are scared to leave their doors open.
She remembered how children used to play outside and knew when the streetlights came on it was time to go home.
"It was a proper, local community. It was lovely. You don't get that anymore. With this going on, you don't want to let your kids out," she said.
Youth worker, Dennis Saint, blamed poverty for fuelling youth violence, adding young people need more opportunities.
"It's something that needs to be stopped at the root. It's about giving [young people] opportunities to pursue their skills," Mr Saint said.
A spokesperson for Newham Council sought to assure people over safety.
"We know that at times like this, tensions can run high and we urge calm.
"Our thoughts and condolences go to those who have been left bereaved by the sad events of today [April 26] and Friday. We urge anyone with any information relating to either incident to contact the police," she said.
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.