A SAUDI Arabian woman who might have been killed because she was wearing Muslim clothing was a “hard-working” student due to graduate from her English language course in August.
Nahid Almanea, 31, was stabbed to death in a brutal attack as she walked along a footpath in Colchester, Essex, on Tuesday morning.
She was wearing a dark navy blue full-length robe called an abaya, and a patterned multi-coloured hijab headscarf, and detectives are investigating the possibility that she was targeted because of her Muslim clothing.
Staff at the University of Essex, where Ms Almanea studied, said today they were “devastated” at the killing of the “conscientious student”.
Students are being supported to deal with their grief, they added.
Richard Barnard, head of the International Academy, said: “She will be greatly missed by her teachers and her fellow students.”
Ms Almanea, who lived in Essex, was found bleeding on the Salary Brook Trail at 10.40am on Tuesday. Paramedics tried to save her life, but she died at the scene from head and body injuries.
Detective Superintendent Tracy Hawkings said officers are keeping an open mind about the motive for the attack, and are investigating the possibility that she was targeted because of her Muslim dress.
She said: “We are conscious that the dress of the victim will have identified her as likely being a Muslim and this is one of the main lines of the investigation but again there is no firm evidence at this time that she was targeted because of her religion.”
Officers are also looking at possible links with the murder of James Attfield, a vulnerable man with brain damage, who died after being stabbed more than 100 times in a park in the town in March.
The Saudi Arabian Embassy has contacted the woman’s family. Police said a 52-year-old man from Colchester was arrested on Tuesday and continues to be questioned by detectives in connection with the murder.