LONDON: Three more people have been arrested in connection with the shooting of a Lebanese-born teenager in the UK.
Law student Aya Hachem, 19, was hit by a bullet fired from a vehicle near her home on Sunday in Blackburn, a town in northern England.
Three men were initially arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of murder and continue to be questioned in relation to the killing.
Lancashire police said on Wednesday they had also arrested two more men on suspicion of murder, as well as another on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Officers investigating Hachem’s death do not believe the Salford University student was the intended target of the attack.
According to a post-mortem examination, she died as a result of a gunshot wound to her chest.
Lancashire Police Det. Supt. Andy Cribbin said: “While we have now arrested a number of people as part of this investigation, our inquiries are very much ongoing and we continue to have a large team of officers and staff working around the clock to find out who was responsible for Aya’s death.
“Our determination to get justice for her family remains undimmed. Our thoughts are very much with Aya’s loved ones and her family is being supported by specially trained officers.
“I would like to thank those who have come forward to assist the investigation so far and I would continue to ask that anyone who has any information, however insignificant they may think it is, to get in touch.
Lancashire Police said the vehicle used in the attack was found abandoned and recovered for forensic examination on Sunday.
“This is an absolutely tragic loss of a young life and we need to find out what happened — you may hold the key to help us do that, so please don’t hesitate to contact us,” Cribbin added.
He repeated a plea for people not to share videos of the incident online out of respect to Aya but to report them to the police. He also asked people not to speculate online about the cause of or motivation for the murder, but contact police if they have any relevant information.
Hachem and her family moved as refugees to the UK from Lebanon when she was a young girl.
Her headteacher when she studied at Blackburn Central high school, Diane Atkinson, told the BBC: “She fled a war-torn zone as a refugee and came to the UK looking for a better life.
“She arrived with very little English and was soon inducted with BCHS, as we call ourselves, the family, and Blackburn. And she was a very intelligent young woman who quickly developed a command of English and worked incredibly hard to become the best person she could be.”
Hachem’s family released a statement expressing their “devastation” at her death, and said they will wait for the police investigation to end before taking her body back to Lebanon.