Residents and community leaders fear a gang culture is breaking out in Southend after a second fatal stabbing in a matter of months.

In July, Hassan Mohammed Ibrahim was murdered in York Road, with the suspects largely originating from outside the borough.

After the latest horror attack, in St Ann’s Road, residents fear a gang turf war could be breaking out.

Keith Kelsey, who set up York Road Residents’ Association in the wake of the murder there, said: “It seems like a bit of a drugs war.

“No one wants this to happen on their doorstep and a lot of residents are fearful, especially those with children. They don’t want to let their kids out.

“Take the York Road groin stabbing. It does appear the attackers did not care what they did and when they carried out their attack – it could have been anyone.”

Both murders are believed to be drugs related, although police say they are keeping all options open during their investigation into the St Ann’s murder.

It comes after a recent high-profile drugs bust, where 47 people were arrested in a huge police operation and removed from the streets of Southend.

The suspects all live outside Southend.

Residents say they are scared of going out at night, fearful of a perceived gang culture in some parts of the town.

Barbara Fischer, of nearby Cedar Close, said: “I know a police officer and they were saying Southend was bad nine years ago, so you can imagine what it is like now.

“You see boys ganging up and I’m scared to go out at night – I take a torch with me during these early dark nights.

“But I can’t confront them for fear of safety.

“I think people are getting territorial over certain parts of the town. But we are being far too soft on criminals, so crime will just get much worse.”

A senior councillor has also called for a greater police presence in the wake of the latest murder – but said Southend Council will also do its bit.

Labour’s Ian Gilbert, deputy leader of the authority and also ward councillor for Victoria, said: “Clearly, this is an extremely distressing incident and it will deeply distress the community.

“There is no denying this is a worrying trend and there is a problem in certain parts of the town.

“We want the perpetrators brought to justice and we want to see additional high-visible patrols.

“I would like to see extra police resources, but we as a council must carry out preventative work to divert people away from people being involved.”