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UK police declare deadly Reading knife rampage 'terrorism incident'

Forbury Gardens in Reading, near London: three people were fatally stabbed and three others injured, 20 June 2020.
Forbury Gardens in Reading, near London: three people were fatally stabbed and three others injured, 20 June 2020. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

British police have said they are now treating a stabbing spree at a park in Reading, southern England, as a terrorist attack. Three people were killed and three more seriously wounded in the Saturday evening incident at Forbury Gardens. A 25-year-old man from Reading was arrested at the scene.  

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Witnesses said a man went on the rampage at around 1800 GMT in Forbury Gardens, stabbing people at random who had gathered in the park on a sunny summer evening in Reading, which is about 40 miles (65 km) west of London.

A 25-year-old man from Reading was arrested on suspicion of murder, police said, adding that they were not searching for any more suspects. Security sources told UK media the man is thought to be Libyan.

"It has now been confirmed that the stabbing incident that occurred in Reading last night (20 June 20), has been declared a terrorist incident," said UK counter terror police on Twitter.

“There is no intelligence to suggest that there is any further danger to the public, however we urge people to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious by calling police,” Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said.

A witness who spoke to the BBC, Lawrence Wort, said the attack began when a man suddenly veered toward a group of about eight to 10 friends and began stabbing them, “so the first three he got so completely out of the blue, he got very badly”.

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

'Deeply shocking'

Video footage posted on Twitter showed paramedics rushing to help at least three people who were bleeding on the ground. Reuters was unable to verify the footage independently.

“It’s used by people to sit and meet with friends and obviously at the moment people have been meeting there, observing social distancing, and just chatting to friends peacefully in a park,” Reading MP Matt Rodda, told Sky News.

“This incident happened in that kind of environment so it’s really quite deeply shocking for local people.”

Current coronavirus restrictions mean venues like pubs are closed, so many people in Britain gather in parks in the evenings to meet friends.

The head of the local council authority in Reading, Jason Brock, said his thoughts were “with the families of all those who have died or have been injured.”

'Not connected' to Black Lives Matter protest

The attack in Reading took place at the site of a Black Lives Matter anti-racism protest in the town earlier on Saturday but police said it was not connected.

“There have been some reports that this incident was linked to the Black Lives Matter protest which took place in Reading earlier this afternoon,” Hunter said. “I can confirm that this incident is not connected. It occurred around three hours after the protest had concluded.”

Some 36 people were killed in four attacks in Britain blamed by authorities on terrorism in 2017, the most deadly of which occurred at the end of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester, northern England, with other attacks at London Bridge and near parliament.

Last year the government downgraded the national terrorism threat level to “substantial,” meaning an attack is likely, from “severe”.

(Reuters)

 

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