Student knifing fuels race fears

March 3, 1995

Police were this week playing down reports that the fatal stabbing of a London student was racially motivated, for fear of heightening factional tension on campus.

A Nigerian student, Ayotunde Obanubi, was killed at the gates of Newham Community College in East Ham on Monday after being chased from the premises by a group of Asian students.

Friends of the dead man claimed that tension had been mounting for weeks at the college between Islamic fundamentalist and African students.

Police said they believed Mr Obanubi was involved in an altercation with some Asian students a week before he was killed, but it was too early to say whether it was over anything more than a game of table tennis.

The college has called in trauma counsellors to talk to the many witnesses of the stabbing and its aftermath, which took place at lunchtime.

One staff member said: "The issue of security is of great concern to staff and students here. Concerns have also been expressed about the college not coming to terms with a group of Asian fundamentalists, some of whom are students, some from outside the college.

"Basically they have taken over student societies and only ever want to discuss elements of Islam in an increasingly hostile type of environment."

But he said it was not clear whether this group had anything to do with the stabbing.

A police spokeswoman said: "We are interviewing a lot of witnesses. We originally thought this was an argument over table tennis and we are now not sure."

College principal Martin Tolhurst was unavailable for comment.

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