Lebanese family grieves loss of promising son, stabbed to death in Manchester

Makki lived with his mother Deborah, 54, and 15-year-old brother Mazen - his father Ghaleb is thought to be in Lebanon. (Facebook)
Updated 06 March 2019

Lebanese family grieves loss of promising son, stabbed to death in Manchester

  • Youssef Makki, 17, who was a student at Manchester Grammar School when he was stabbed in the chest on Saturday night
  • Two unnamed 17-year-olds have been arrested and charged with his murder – it is thought they were known to the victim

DUBAI: The family of a Lebanese student, who was killed in the UK’s northern city of Manchester, said they were expecting him home for tea when they got the knock at the door from police  to tell them their son had been stabbed to death.

Youssef Makki, 17, who was a student at Manchester Grammar School when he was stabbed in the chest on Saturday night, British national daily The Telegraph reported.

Two unnamed 17-year-olds have been arrested and charged with his murder – it is thought they were known to the victim.

Now the victim’s family have released an emotional statement expressing their grief.

“Yousef was a loving and caring son and brother and he meant the world to his family,” the joint statement read.

“He was a sporty young man, a dedicated student and so bright. He had everything to look forward to.”

Makki lived with his mother Deborah, 54, and 15-year-old brother Mazen - his father Ghaleb is thought to be in Lebanon.

“We are absolutely devastated and cannot believe that our son has gone. This senseless loss has affected the whole community. Yousef had only phoned home hours earlier to say that he would be home for his tea, but the next knock at the door were officers with the tragic news, it is every parent’s worst nightmare,” the statement continued.

“We would appeal to anyone with information to contact the police and to help us find out what has happened on Saturday evening. Only recently had we talked about his promising life ahead of him and how he was looking forward to life. He was a promising student and loved by everyone,” the statement concluded.

Dr Martin Boulton, the High Master of the school, said Makki was a “young man of such promise,” and said: "It is impossible to make sense of such a senseless act.”

Makki was found conscious lying in the road after the attack by David Beckham’s former bodyguard, Paul Hughes.

“He had one stab wound to the chest. He was half lying in the road and he was conscious and one of my guys was talking to him. At first, he was responding to what my security officer was saying," Hughes said.

The UK is experiencing a significant increase in knife crime – there were 39 children and teenagers killed with knives in 2018 – there have been 10 so far in 2019.


Taliban attacks ‘damaging’ peace process, says Afghan govt

Updated 52 min 34 sec ago

Taliban attacks ‘damaging’ peace process, says Afghan govt

  • Spokesman for insurgent group accuses Kabul of making ‘excuses’ to delay talks

KABUL: Afghanistan’s government on Sunday accused the Taliban of increasing its attacks, casting doubt on future negotiations with the insurgent group.

A promise of future peace talks was part of a historic peace deal signed in February between the Taliban and the US in Doha, Qatar. But negotiations have already been delayed twice because of disagreements between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the Taliban. The talks were expected to pave the way for a total withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan by next year.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Sediq Sediqqi, Ghani’s chief spokesman, said the “intensification of violence by the Taliban lately,” which also claimed civilian lives, “damages hopes for the start of the talks and stable peace in the country.”

It follows a statement by Hamdullah Mohib, Ghani’s national security adviser, who said in a statement last night that the escalation of Taliban attacks was the “main cause for the postponement of the talks.”

He said: “The Taliban have intensified their violence in many parts of Afghanistan, disrupting the process of direct talks and making it harder.”

Mohib’s spokesman, Javid Faisal, said on Saturday that in the past week alone, the Taliban had staged attacks in 16 of the country’s 34 provinces, resulting in the deaths of at least 23 civilians.

He did not give an estimate of casualties sustained by government forces. However, official data released last month showed that hundreds of army and police personnel died during Taliban attacks in June.

The Taliban has rejected the claims of the government. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid blamed Kabul for several strikes which “led to the fatalities among non-combatants.”

These include a rocket attack at a cattle market in southern Helmand in June, where human rights groups say dozens of civilians, including children, were killed.

“A political solution is the only alternative that we have for ending the war and changing the situation in Afghanistan. No hindrance should be created against this,” Mujahid told Arab News on Sunday.

He accused Kabul of blocking the start of peace talks by not releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners, a condition demanded by the insurgent group ahead of negotiations.

While Kabul has freed over 4,000 Taliban prisoners, it said last week that it would not release 600 of them, “as they had committed various types of crimes.”

Mujahid described the government move as “one excuse after the other.”

He said: “The release of the rest of the prisoners is a must. If the process of release of prisoners is not completed, the talks cannot begin, and there is a possibility that fighting will intensify and then we will have to settle the conflict through military means.”

Experts warn that Ghani’s government is under increasing pressure.

Former diplomat and analyst Ahmad Saeedi said Ghani is under pressure from Washington, which “wants to show that it is keen to conduct talks, but from the other side wants this process to continue for five years,” until Ghani’s term ends.

“Ghani wants the Taliban to join his government, while the Taliban consider his government fragile, arguing that if he does not engage in talks, then they will take power by force after the US pulls out troops,” Saeedi said.

Another analyst, Taj Mohammad, said the lack of progress in setting a fixed time for the talks was a blow for the peace process and “showed that the actual negotiations would be highly complicated and difficult.”

Related