London struggles to fight crime spike as 2018 murders soar

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Stefan Rousseau
Forensic officers at the scene where a 16-year old boy was shot on Monday evening and left in a critical condition outside the leisure centre in Walthamstow, east London, Tuesday April 3, 2018. A 17-year old girl was shot and died on Monday evening, in the nearby Tottenham district of north London. The homicide rate in London has increased each month in 2018 as the British capital experiences a rise in violent crime. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Friends say Israel Ogunsola was a bubbly young man with a knack for making people laugh.

This week the 18-year-old became London’s 53rd murder victim of 2018. The British capital is being shaken by a spike in deadly violence, much of it involving young people with knives caught up in gang feuds.

If the trend continues, London will far surpass the 130 murders it saw in 2017 and reach a number not seen since the early 2000s.

Police and community workers say London’s surge in violence is partly driven by battles over control of the illegal drug trade and a “postcode war” between street gangs.

The crime wave has multiple causes, from cuts in police budgets to social media posts that can incite violence.

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