VIDEO: More details emerge of south Belfast murder

The PSNI has offered additional details about the murder of a foreign national on Thursday which resulted in a sizeable chunk of south Belfast being shut down throughout the day.

Police held a press conference on Thursday afternoon, at which they revealed a number of details of the killing.

Police are investigating the murder of a man whose body was found at Botanic Avenue in Belfast.   :Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Police are investigating the murder of a man whose body was found at Botanic Avenue in Belfast. :Russell Pritchard / Presseye

But many questions were also left unanswered.

The victim, who police were still trying to identify yesterday afternoon, is believed to be of Pakistani origin – not Chinese, as one MP had suggested.

The suspect was apprehended a short distance from the murder scene in the Botanic area of south Belfast and is understood to be of African origin, and in his 30s.

The whole of Botanic Avenue – a major thoroughfare in the heart of Belfast’s pub and student area – was shut down (footage of which can be seen by clicking on this link).

DCI Richard Campbell (L) and Supt Paula Hilman (R)

DCI Richard Campbell (L) and Supt Paula Hilman (R)

A police tent had been set up on the corner of the Empire Music Hall and a bookmakers.

Two knives were recovered from the scene.

Police believe that an altercation in a property at the nearby India Street, on the northern edge of the Holylands, could have spilled onto the street.

Detectives said they did not have an age for the victim.

Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Richard Campbell, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “We’re following a number of lines of enquiry, but we’re keeping an open mind about the possible motive.”

Pressed as to what may lie behind the attack, the officer said that a “second scene” had been established on nearby India Street – a row of terraced houses leading into the student area of the Holylands.

He told reporters: “It appears that there has been some sort or altercation, possibly in that flat, which has then spilled out onto the street and then ended up with the murder on Botanic Avenue.”

DCI Campbell said that a post-mortem would establish details of the death, including how many times the victim was stabbed.

Asked about the variety of knives used, he declined to offer any details.

While Botanic Avenue is usually a hive of activity, its dozens of shops and cafes remained empty throughout the day, until the road reopened at about 6.30pm.

Often the only sign of movement was the quivering lines of PSNI tape cordoning off surrounding streets, and the blue flashes of police beacons set on the road.

Jill Robinson, a 23-year-old civil engineering student originally from Ballymena, emerged from her house close to the scene to be confronted with a cordon.

When told by this reporter what had happened, she said: “It’s quite shocking. It makes you think twice about heading out at night. You always hear tell of things happening in (nearby) Stranmillis late at night, but never a murder.”

Jason Armstrong, 43, and living in the Holylands, said: “It has a far-reaching impact. Basically students coming here in September would be thinking: ‘What have I come to?’”

DCI Campbell made a plea to the public to step forward with any information they may have.

An incident room has been set up at Musgrave PSNI station, and if anyone was in the area and saw or heard anything, they should contact detectives on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.