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Staff members at Metro Pizza in Holloway Road, less than 100m from where the victim was found, said that two young boys were fighting outside the restaurant shortly before the attack at 2.30pm yesterday.
Those working close to the junction of Drayton Park and Horsell Road, where the incident took place, said there may have been as many as four attackers who jumped from a car before stabbing the victim.
Sections of both roads remained closed today while police gathered evidence.
The man remains in a critical condition in an east London hospital while police say no arrests have been made.
Anyone with information can contact officers by calling 101.