THE Archbishop of Birmingham has spoken of his “shock” at the death of Halesowen student Christina Edkins who was stabbed on a bus this morning (Thursday).

The 16-year-old Leasowes High School pupil was attacked on the number 9 bus in Hagley Road, Birmingham, on her way to school.

A 22-year-old man, named locally as Phillip Simelane from Birmingham, was arrested a short time later on suspicion of murder.

The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, said in a message from Rome after hearing about the tragedy: “I am shocked to hear of the terrible attack on young Christina Edkins as she was making her way to school on a bus today.

“My thoughts and prayers are with her bereft family and with all her friends at Leasowes High School, in Halesowen.

“The loss of a young life in these tragic circumstances raises many questions about our respect for life and about safeguarding children in public places.”

Rev Mike Rutter, vicar of St Peter’s Church in Lapal, Halesowen, has also spoken of his shock at the news of Christina's horrific death.

He said: “It’s a terrible tragedy and many in our community will be affected. "We are ensuring St Peter’s Church is open to enable anyone who wishes to come in, say a prayer, light a candle and sign a book of condolence. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Christina’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

The church will be open for the community to use between 8am and 9pm today (Thursday), tomorrow (Friday) and throughout the weekend.