The police said on Sunday that the stabbing rampage which occured in Reading is being considered a terrorist attack. A 25-year-old man who was believed to be the lone attacker who killed three persons as they sat in the park was in custody.
Authorities said they were not looking for any other suspects and they did not raise Britain’s official terrorism threat level from “substantial.”
Three people were killed and three others seriously wounded in the stabbing attack that came out of the blue Saturday in Forbury Gardens park in Reading, a town of 200,000 people 64 kilometers west of London.
“Motivation for this horrific act is far from certain,” said Neil Basu, Britain’s top counterterrorism police officer, as police forensics officers combed the park for evidence.
Basu said “incredibly brave” unarmed officers from the Thames Valley Police force arrested a 25-year-old local man at the scene. The Thames Valley force later said counterterrorism detectives were taking over the investigation.
“There is no intelligence to suggest that there is any further danger to the public,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter.
Police have not identified the suspect, but Britain’s national news agency, Press Association, named him as Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan citizen who lived in Reading. A Reading man of that name who is the same age as the suspect was sentenced to two months in prison last year for assaulting an emergency worker.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who met security officials, police and senior ministers on Sunday for an update on the investigation, said he was “appalled and sickened” by the attack.
Personal trainer Lawrence Wort said the park was full of groups sitting on the grass Saturday evening when “one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them.”
“He stabbed three of them severely in the neck and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running,” Wort said.
Britain has been hit by several terror attacks in recent years, both by people inspired by the Islamic State group and by far-right extremists. Islamist-inspired attacks include a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that killed 22 people in 2017 and two deadly vehicle and knife attacks in London the same year.
In several cases, attackers have been known to police. In November, a man who had been released after serving a prison sentence for a terrorism offense stabbed two people to death at a justice conference in London.
In February, a man recently released from prison after serving time for terrorism-related offenses strapped on a fake bomb and stabbed two people on a busy London street before being shot to death by police. No one else was killed.
Britain’s official terrorism threat level stands at “substantial,” the middle level on a five-rung scale, meaning an attack is likely.
Also Read: Boris Targets UK Aid to Wield Global Power