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Man arrested on suspicion of murdering Zara Aleena, 35, in Ilford

A police cordon at the scene in Cranbrook Road, Ilford (Luke O’Reilly/PA)
A police cordon at the scene in Cranbrook Road, Ilford (Luke O’Reilly/PA)

A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a 35-year-old woman who was attacked while walking in east London.

Detectives said they believed Zara Aleena was “attacked by a stranger” while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday.

Emergency services were called to the scene in Ilford at 2.44am after members of the public found Ms Aleena with serious head injuries.

Zara Aleena
Zara Aleena died after being a “victim of an attack by a stranger”, the Metropolitan Police has said (Metropolitan Police/PA)

She was treated by paramedics at the scene and shortly afterwards was taken to hospital.

She died later on Sunday.

The Metropolitan Police said a man was arrested at an address in Ilford on Monday and remains in police custody.

Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, senior officer for policing in the east area, said: “As you will be aware we are investigating the tragic murder of a woman in Ilford in the early hours of Sunday morning.

“I can confirm that pending formal identification, we believe the victim to be a local 36-year-old woman named Zara Aleena.

“We are keeping Zara’s family up to date with our progress and my heartfelt condolences are with them at this terrible time.”

He added: “Zara, who lived locally, was walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station when she was assaulted.

“It is now believed that she was the victim of an attack by a stranger.

“Her family are aware of this and as the investigation progresses they will continue to be updated and supported.”

He added there was no evidence of any weapons being used in the attack, which left Ms Aleena with fatal head injuries.

“Our priorities are to ensure the safety of the local community and to engage locally with residents and people affected,” he added.

“We will be working closely with partners and locally elected representatives to do all we can to make people in this area feel safe and tackle offenders who harm people and cause alarm in our community.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

There have been 43 homicides in London so far in 2022, according to figures compiled by the PA news agency.

This is some way below the equivalent number for the first six months of 2021 (63) and 2020 (56).

A total of 132 homicides were recorded by police in London last year, up from 122 in 2020.

Detectives have appealed for information from anyone who was in the Cranbrook Road area of Ilford between 2am and 3am on Sunday, including anyone who drove through the area and may have dashcam footage, or anyone who might have seen anything suspicious in the area overnight.

Anyone with any information or footage should call the major incident room on 0208 345 3715 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.