DUBAI // A terrified boy yesterday described seeing his 13-year-old cousin being stabbed to death during an attack by a group of at least 10 teenagers. Suhail Essa, also 13, watched in horror as a member of the group attacked his cousin, Ali Mohammed Hassan, with a large knife before leaving him to die on the pavement outside his home on Thursday night.
"I ran away. But when I turned around I saw him stabbing Ali with a big knife," Suhail said yesterday at a mourning ceremony organised by Ali's family. The dead boy's father, Mohammed Hassan, 62, yesterday demanded the "strongest punishment" for his son's killers. "Blood for blood," he said. "That is what I want now. That is fair. They should be given the strongest punishment." Dubai Police confirmed yesterday that they have arrested five juveniles so far in connection with Ali's death. They said the youngster had sustained 11 stab wounds, several to the back and chest.
Maj Gen Khamis al Mazeina, the deputy head of Dubai Police, said the suspects "will be questioned by the Public Prosecution and if it turns out that more people are involved, we will arrest them as well". Gen al Mazeina said the attackers were from Al Warqa and "had come to continue a fight which had erupted earlier". Another police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the gang had gone to the city's Al Rashidiya neighbourhood after the earlier altercation, looking for one of Ali's brothers.
The murder has stunned the neighbourhood, home to mainly Emirati and Asian families. Grieving relatives gathered at Ali's home yesterday afternoon. One described him as an "intelligent and kind" boy with a promising future. They said that after returning home from school on Thursday, Ali had spent time at home playing with his two sisters. The boy was an avid reader and also spent many hours playing video games.
"He is very polite and quiet. You can't hear his voice if he is at home," said Essa, one of Ali's six older brothers. "I remember him playing in the house that afternoon and fighting with his sisters." That evening, Ali left home with Suhail and some of their friends. Witnesses described seeing a group of "angry" boys arriving in two cars in Al Rashidiya at about 10pm. Witnesses in the neighbourhood said yesterday the outsiders appeared to be "looking for someone".
Suhail said that Ali and he were "sitting on the pavement" when the two cars pulled up and that they were seized by the group, which began beating them. Suhail escaped and ran home. "He was in shock when he reached home. He just kept saying 'Ali, Ali'," said Essa, Suhail's father, who declined to give his full name. "They would have killed my son, too. He ran and so he is alive." Suhail described the attackers as "large men driving big cars". He said about 10 individuals came in two cars while others came by taxi.
Ali's brother, Essa, said: "They had come to kill. They would kill anyone. Why would they carry knives and drive around town? My brother was just there by accident and they killed him." Ali's family said the boy had no connection to the attackers and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. After the attack, a police officer who was near the scene rushed Ali to hospital but he died on the way. A police dog led officers to the knife they believe was used in the attack. The knife had been dropped in an alley some distance from the scene.
"Ten guys came to kill one boy, my son. He was just a baby," said a tearful Mr Hassan, who works as a guard at the Dubai Police headquarters in Al Qusais. Family members said Ali's mother was in shock, believing her son would return safely home at any moment. Ali was the youngest of seven brothers. His school principal said they had lost their "best student". "He was a clever student. He was always among the top three ranks in the school," said Obaid al Taher, principal of Mohammed Noor Boys' School.
Mr al Taher said some students from his school have been arrested in connection with the case. "They are already in prison. We don't know what will happen to them," he said. Gen al Mazeina said the incident had led to a tightening of police procedure when youths are found to be in possession of blades. "We have given directions to the Criminal Investigation Department to arrest any person under the legal age if they are to be found with any sharp tool," he said. "The parents of the detained person must then sign an undertaking that the offence will not be repeated.
"A second time, the offenders would be referred to the court for possessing items that can endanger lives. What happened should not have been allowed to happen and we need to monitor this category of society to ensure that such acts will not be repeated."