By Beatrice Thomas
In response to growing concerns, officers confirm the two recent incidents are a “tragic coincidence”
London Police have moved to assure the public there is no link between two serious violent attacks against UAE residents in the English capital in the past month but acknowledged the “tragic coincidence”.
The latest attack on a 51-year-old man, reported to be Ali Al Tamimi, of Ajman, his wife, 47, and a 59-year-old Emirati friend at their London flat about 1am on Tuesday morning has sparked heated debate on social media networks with Twitter hashtags trending such as “Dubai Summers rather than London hammers” and #london_is_not_safe.
Police said in a statement on Thursday morning that they are still investigating the incident in which a group of masked men forced their way into the couple’s home in Westbourne Gardens, Paddington, and threatened them before stealing a quantity of property including two mobile phones, around AED4,000 ($1,089) and £2,400 ($4,033) in cash, two passports, handbags and bank cards.
Two of the four men, who are all described as black and wearing masks, were armed with handguns and one had a knife. Another three men stood outside while the robbery took place, police said.
It comes after the alleged assault of three Emirati sisters at their London hotel on April 6 where the victims were attacked with a hammer after they interrupted a burglar who had gained access to their unlocked room. Four people have been charged over that attack.
“Obviously we understand there are concerns about recent incidents, but I would reiterate that officers are doing all they can to find those responsible for this latest incident,” Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said.
“It is worth noting that following the assault involving UAE nationals at the Cumberland Hotel, W1, on Sunday, 6 April, four people have been charged in connection with this. They are currently going through the judicial process.
“We acknowledge the tragic coincidence of two serious violent attacks against residents of UAE in London and the concern that it is bound to cause, but there is no reason to suggest these incidents are linked.
“We believe the victims in this latest case were not targeted because of their nationality.”
Detective Superintendent David Manning, of Westminster police, said it was obviously a very serious incident. Police are being assisted by counterparts in the UAE.
“Although those involved were not injured they were left traumatised by their ordeal. I would appeal to anyone with any information or any witnesses to contact us as soon as possible to identify those involved,” he said.
Al Tamimi told Dubai TV that soon after greeting an Emirati friend who had come to their home at midnight his intercom rang, which was followed by a loud noise like an explosion.
“When I rushed to check I saw the main door to the flat wide open and a man holding a knife coming towards us and him but the door pushed us back and then four or five other men rushed in carrying knives, hammers and guns,” he said.
He said he was resisting the attackers and managed to evade two stabs and unmasked one of the men.
“My eye was in his and his colleague started yelling at him to shoot me because I saw his face,” he reportedly said. “At that moment and before he tried to stab me for a third time, they heard the siren of an ambulance, not ordered by us. They got scared, stole many items and then fled.”
The brother of the wife reportedly told Al Rabeaa radio station that his sister said she was ordered to sit down and a gun was pointed at her head.
“She told us that she pointed at her purse, trying to tell the attackers the money was in there,” he said.
He said they went through her bag but did not take the jewellery and then fled when they heard sirens. She told her brother that her husband reportedly suffered bruises and an injured finger.