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Police declare deadly stabbings in British park terrorism

Three people were killed and three others injured after a stabbing spree by a lone attacker


dpa, Hamburg, Germany

LONDON — Counter-terrorism officers have declared the stabbing to death of three people in a British park late Saturday a terrorist incident, police said on Sunday.

Thames Valley Police said three others were injured after a stabbing spree by a lone attacker in the town of Reading.

They arrested a 25-year-old local man on suspicion of murder.

Dean Haydon, national coordinator for Britain’s counter-terrorism policing, had deemed the attack a terrorism incident, and his force would take over the investigation, Thames Valley Police said.

“This was a truly tragic incident and the thoughts of Thames Valley Police are with all those who have been affected,” Chief Constable John Campbell said in a statement.

“We will be working closely with our partners over the coming days and weeks to support the Reading community during this time, as well as with [counter-terrorism police] as they progress their investigation,” Campbell said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met security officials, police chiefs and senior ministers on Sunday and was “updated on the ongoing investigation into the fatal stabbings,” Downing Street said.

“My thoughts are with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading and my thanks to the emergency services on the scene,” Johnson tweeted earlier.

Unconfirmed reports said police subdued the suspect in a street close to the park.

“There can be no doubt that the swift response of our Thames Valley Police colleagues saved further harm from being caused and potentially more lives from being lost,” Craig O’leary, chairman of the Thames Valley Police Federation, said in a statement.

Witness Lawrence Wort told broadcaster Sky News that he saw a man walk up to people in the park and stab them before running towards him, in what appeared to be a “completely random” attack.

“So the park was pretty full, a lot of people sat around drinking with friends when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them,” Wort said.

The police rejected speculation that the attack was linked to a Black Lives Matter protest in the park earlier Saturday, saying the protest had ended about three hours before the attack.