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SPECIAL REPORT: He fled war-torn Somalia 14 years ago, only to see his son cut down on the streets of Camden Town in the third knife murder in a month

Another family mourns the senseless death of their son

Police fear that released suspects may flee country

Mahir, right, pictured at a wedding last year with his brother Adir, left, father Abdirahman and cousin Amal

Home Secretary Charles Clarke inspects the shrine of flowers for Mahir outside Camden Tube station during his visit last night (Wednesday). Pictured page one: Mahir’s father Abdirahman tackles the home secretary.
AN 18-year-old youth who died after a shocking knife attack in Camden Town on Saturday was in “the wrong place at the wrong time” his friends and family have said.
Mahir Osman, who would have been 19 on Monday, was stabbed at least three times in the back, repeatedly in the legs and slashed around the face by a gang of up to 30 youths while he waited for the number 31 bus home outside Camden Town Tube station at 10.30pm.
He died four hours later at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead despite receiving first aid within a minute from police officers.
Friends say he was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of a gang war between rival groups of Somalis.
Just two days later on Monday another devastated family laid to rest Tommy Winston, also 18, who was stabbed in a gang fight last month (see page 6).
Three days before Christmas Amanda Cummings, 27, was stabbed and killed in Royal College Street.
A gang feud between rival Somali gangs based in Camden Town and Tottenham is believed to be behind the killing of Mahir, of Taplow tower block in Adelaide Road, Swiss Cottage. It is understood he was caught in the middle of a dispute he had nothing to do with.
CCTV cameras captured the horrific murder at the busy bus stop from beginning to end and then followed the 25-strong gang as they fled the scene by leaping on a 253 bus. Minutes later police stopped the bus in Camden Road and arrested the youths.
A second bus was commandeered and driven to police stations around London as the police did not have a single building able to deal with the entire gang.
But between five to seven youths escaped arrest by smashing a window on the top deck of the bus and jumping out.
All those arrested were released on police bail on Monday morning.
Borough Commander Mark Heath insisted he is confident of securing murder convictions despite releasing 25 suspects without charge.
He said: “We anticipate charges of murder and serious public order offences.
“There is an enormous amount of evidence that’s being sifted through; witness accounts, CCTV and forensic evidence but we are confident that appropriate charges will follow.”
Privately senior officers concede they have concerns that key suspects may try to flee the country before charges can be brought, but they believe the best chance of convictions rests on putting a solid case together first.
The investigation is understood to be focussing on a feud between the Inverness Street, Camden-based ‘Centric’ gang and Somalis from Tottenham, which dates back at least as far as an incident outside an Enfield nightclub before Christmas.
The Centric gang has been involved in a series of violent disputes in and around Inverness Street over the last two years but, although Mahir was friendly with many in the gang, he is not believed to have been involved in either dealing drugs or fighting.
One avenue being investigated is that he may have attempted to prevent a fight between the two younger gangs at a house party in Finsbury Park earlier on Saturday.
But by the time the Tottenham gang arrived in Camden, all of the other Camden youths had moved on to the Horn of Africa cafe in Kentish Town Road to watch televised highlights from the African Nation’s Cup.
Psyched-up and ready for violence the Tottenham gang picked on Mahir, the only Somali in the area. But suggestions that tribal conflict transferred from war-torn Somalia added spice to the dispute have been dismissed by youths.
The thoughts of many devastated friends were summed up by pal Raw Chambers, who said: “He was good – he never got in trouble with the police and was always the peacemaker, respected all over Camden. He just got caught in the crossfire.
“You don’t stab someone that many times unless you want to kill them: May he rest in peace.” Both Chief Superintendent Heath and council leader Raj Chada – who met with Somali elders on Monday – have called for calm in the immediate aftermath, with police fearful of a revenge attack.


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