Police appeal for calm following the death of teenage Somali refugee who arrived in the UK from Kenya

Shukri Abdi
Shukri Abdi

Police in Bury have called for ‘calm’ in the community and on social media following the death of Shukri Abdi who drowned in the River Irwell in the town on June 27, just five weeks before her 13th birthday.

An ongoing police investigation has found there is currently “nothing to suggest that bullying led directly to her death,” and the senior officer leading the investigation, Detective Inspector Andrew Naismith, has called for ‘calm’ amid ‘serious accusations’ being made against the four children who were with Shukri at the time of her death.

Shukri was the eldest of Somali refugee Zamzam Ture’s five children. The family arrived in Bury during 2017 from a refugee camp in Kenya after fleeing their homeland due to violence.

An inquest was opening on Tuesday morning at Heywood Coroner’s Court this morning where Shukri as a “quiet girl” who was “so happy and so focussed on her future,” and that she left school with four other children on the afternoon of June 27.

“They all went down to the water to play that evening after school”, Det Insp Naismith said. “Shukri got into difficulty, went into the deep end of the water, and unfortunately she has drowned.

Family members have alleged that Shukri was being bullied at Broad Oak Sports College where she was a pupil, with campaigners also raising suspicions about her death as she could not swim.

However, Det Insp Naismith said: “The investigation is still ongoing and we are talking to a number of people but at this stage, there is nothing to suggest there is anything related to third-party involvement, or bullying or coercion in relation to getting Shukri down to the river.”

Police told the inquest hearing that they had received two calls about the incident on June 27. The first was from Shukri’s mother reporting her daughter missing at about 8pm and a later call, from “the friends” who had been with Shukri, alerted the authorities that the 12-year-old girl was in the water.

Fire crews, police and ambulances attended and according to Det Insp Naismith: “It was quite clear quite quickly that Shukri had been in the water for 20 to 30 minutes.

“A rescue mission was launched by the emergency services. However, unfortunately, Shukri was recovered at 11.27pm and pronounced dead at 11.54pm.

“The family were informed and I then launched a full-scale investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.”

He added: “I would like to offer my condolences to the family. I know this is a difficult time but I would also like to ask that there is some calm on social media and in the community.

“There were four other children involved in this from four very difficult backgrounds who are clearly having some very serious accusations pointed at them.”

Speaking at the inquest, senior Coroner for Greater Manchester North, Joanne Kearsley said: “There has been widespread reporting of potential bullying accusations. There is currently an ongoing review by the school and the outcome of their investigation will be made available to the police.”

A petition, signed by more than 54,000 people has called for a “full and transparent investigation”, and hundreds of parents took part in a protest outside the school calling for “justice for Shukri.”

The inquest has been adjourned until December 9 this year.

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