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Australia vigil for murdered Israeli student as police hunt killer

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Sydney, Australia   /   Fri, January 18, 2019   /   10:30 am
Australia vigil for murdered Israeli student as police hunt killer Crime scene, murder, robbery, theft, rape (Shutterstock/-)

Campaigners on Friday called for an end to the "epidemic of violence against women" ahead of a vigil in memory of an Israeli student murdered in Australia's second-largest city, as her attacker remained at large.

Aiia Maasarwe, 21, was killed on the way home from a comedy show in Melbourne just after midnight on Wednesday, with her body found in bushes near a tram stop by passers-by several hours later.

Police said Thursday that Maasarwe appeared to have been seriously assaulted, but have yet to determine how she had died.

Several memorials are to be held on Friday, including one where mourners dressed in black will hold a silent vigil on the steps of the Victorian state parliament.

Another memorial plans to fill the 86 tram, which Maasarwe was believed to have ridden on her way home, with red roses that were reportedly her favourite flowers.

Some of the organisers were the same ones who organised a vigil for Eurydice Dixon, a 22-year-old local comedian who was killed in a Melbourne park last year as she was going home.

"We're as angry as we were last time," organiser Jessamy Gleeson told Melbourne's Herald Sun on Friday, adding more needed to be done to keep women safe.

"We shouldn't have these one-off vigils. There needs to be continued engagement and conversation about violence against women."

The vigils came amid heightened local community fears about safety with Maasarwe's killer yet to be found.

"We've got an ongoing effort to saturate the area as much as we possibly can," Victoria Police Acting Superintendent Tony Ryan told national broadcaster ABC Friday.

"We understand this distresses the local community, and we understand our role in this, and that is we need to be in that area and we need to provide some comfort and some safety."

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Twitter on Friday, calling the crime "an incredibly shocking, despicable and tragic attack".

"My heart goes out to Aiia's family and friends and everyone whose life she touched."