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Last Images Of Student Murdered In 'Horrendous' Attack

Homicide detectives have released CCTV images of a 21-year-old exchange student who was killed in Melbourne's north as they desperately plead for information from the public.

Police described the murder of Arab-Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe, who was on her way home after a night out on Tuesday, as an "absolutely horrific" attack that was both "random" and "opportunistic".

"This is an horrendous crime that has been inflicted on a member of the community," Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper told reporters on Thursday.

"Nothing in the victim's background indicates this was anyone known to her. So yes, unfortunately, the presumption at this stage is this was a random and opportunistic attack."

Aiia Maasarwe (left) was an exchangei student studying at La Trobe University. Image: Facebook

Police said Maasarwe, who is understood to have spent several months in Melbourne on an exchange program, was last seen leaving The Comic's Lounge club on Tuesday night before being dropped at a Route 86 tram stop on Bourke Street.

It's likely she got off the tram in Bundoora, near where passers-by discovered  her body outside a Polaris Shopping Centre on Wednesday morning.

Det Insp Stamper confirmed the woman was on the phone to her sister when the attack occurred.

"Sadly her sister was talking to her and she appeared to fall to the ground and then she couldn't contact her," he said.

"Pretty much she heard the sound of the fall to the ground, some voices ... at 10 past midnight on Wednesday night."

Some of Maasarwe's belongings were found in a park opposite where her body was found in a line search on Wednesday afternoon.

Det Insp Stamper added there was an "active line of inquiry" into whether she was "seriously assaulted" but would not divulge details, out of respect for her family.

"We're looking at everyone at the moment. Known sex offenders are an active line of inquiry," he said.

READ MORE: 'My Heart Aches': Tributes For Exchange Student Found Dead Near Melbourne Shopping Centre

Police have released the CCTV images showing Maasarwe's appearance on Tuesday night and hope the public can help to track her final movements.

Images of two items of clothing -- a Cotton On branded light grey t-shirt and a baseball cap --  located at the scene were also released.

Det Insp Stamper said police have "good reason to believe" they belong to the offender.

"My honest belief is that the answer to solving this crime lies with the community," Det Insp Stamper said.

"Someone knows something about this and we need them to be accountable for this, for actually delivering this person to us ... so we can get them off the street."

Family members arrived from Israel on Thursday morning, as police and the SES conducted a search of the area.

"We have a grieving family who had to fly halfway across the world under the most horrific circumstances and we want to be able to give them some answers," Inspector Stamper said.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. 

Contact the author ebrancatisano@networkten.com.au