Detectives are investigating whether the murder of a Lancaster University student, who was gunned down in the street on a night out with friends, was racially motivated.
The 23-year-old victim, an electronics postgraduate, was part of a group of nine male and female Indian students who were visiting Manchester for a short break over the Christmas holidays.
As they walked from their hotel in Salford towards Manchester city centre in the early hours of Boxing Day, they were stopped by a man who began a short conversation with the victim before taking out a handgun and blasting him at close range.
The student, who has not been named, collapsed to the ground and was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead. His family in India have been informed.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said it was an “awful” and “unprovoked” attack and pledged to “leave no stone unturned” in the hunt for the killer. Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, divisional commander for Salford, said: “This is a tragic incident and our first thoughts are for the family.
“There is going to be a huge amount of concern in the community and I can reassure the family and the community by telling them we have launched a major investigation and no stone will be left unturned until we find the people who are responsible for this.”
Armed response units were called to Ordsall Lane, Salford, following the shooting, which took place a short walk from the hotel where the students were staying. They had been walking towards the city centre and became aware of two men on foot on the other side of the street.
The gunman, a white male in his 20s who was wearing a grey top, crossed the road and engaged the victim in a short conversation before producing the gun and shooting the student in the side of the head.
The killer then ran back across the street before the pair fled towards Asgard Drive and the Ordsall housing estate. The other man was of a heavier build and wearing a black jacket, police said.
The scene has been sealed off for forensic examination and police are conducting increased patrols of the area.