Dectectives investigating the murder of a 12-year-old girl in Liverpool are trying to track down the occupants of a van who may be key witnesses to the killing.

Ava White had been in the city centre with friends on Thursday following a Christmas lights switch-on when she was attacked at around 8.40pm.

The year eight pupil suffered ‘catastrophic injuries’ in the assault and was rushed to hospital where she later died.

The killing has sent shockwaves through Liverpool and Merseyside Police are continuing to appeal for information.

Now they have released an image of a van, the occupants of which they would like to speak to.

Officers think whoever was in the vehicle may have witnessed something vital which can help the investigation. They are not being treated as suspects.

Detective superintendent Sue Coombs said: ‘Our thoughts and condolences go out to Ava’s family, friends and the wider community.

‘Ava’s family are being supported by specialist officers and they have requested that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.

‘Merseyside Police is absolutely determined to bring those responsible to justice. Today we are also issuing new images of Ava on behalf of her family.

‘We are also sharing a still image of a van which was in the vicinity of the incident and may have witnessed something vital.

‘To be clear, we think those vehicle’s occupants are witnesses, and in no way suspected of being involved.

‘However, we still need to speak to those people as soon as possible to confirm what information they might hold.’

Four boys, one aged 13, two aged 14 and one 15-year-old, remain in custody after they were arrested on suspicion of murder.

On Friday, Ava’s school paid tribute to the ‘unique and bubbly’ schoolgirl.

Her family today released new pictures as part of the appeal for new information. The two new photographs show Ava in her uniform and smiling at a table.

Ms Coombs urged anyone who captured the incident or aftermath to send images or footage to the force online.

Road closures remain in place on School Lane, Church Alley and Fleet Street as extensive inquiries continue.

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