A knife attack in Reading which killed three people and left three others seriously injured has today been declared a ‘terrorist incident’.
Counter-terrorism police will now take over the investigation after the frenzied attack which took place in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of Reading, Berkshire, on Saturday.
It comes after witnesses said a ‘Libyan’ knifeman targeted and stabbed people ‘at random’ before being ‘rugby-tackled’ to the ground by one unarmed police officer.
One witness said the attacker pulled a knife and ‘shouted some unintelligible words’ before trying to stab people in the packed park, which was said to be filled with families and young children at the time.
The witness said he saw the attacker stab three men ‘in the neck and under the arms’ before turning around and running at others.
Last night counter-terrorism officers were were called in to help detectives following the attack, which police said at first was not thought to be terrorism-related, and carried out a controlled explosion at the suspect’s home address.
But this morning Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, Senior National Coordinator for the Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) network, announced the attack is to be declared a ‘terrorist incident’. They will take over the investigation from Thames Valley Police.
The head of counter terrorism policing, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu, today said there is ‘nothing to suggest anyone else was involved’ and that police are not currently seeking anyone else as part of the investigation.
It come as today footage emerged which shows a man being detained by officers in the middle of a street following the frenzied stabbing attack in the park, which took place around 7pm yesterday.
Witnesses said the attacker targeted a group of middle-aged men ‘sitting drinking beer’ and systematically stabbed them ‘in the neck and under the arms’.
Footage shows a man being detained by officers in the middle of a street following a frenzied stabbing attack in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of the Berkshire town.
Thames Valley police chiefs say the cordon near to where the incident will likely remain up for ‘some time’ following the incident in Forbury Gardens, Reading on Saturday
Thames Valley Police have also reassured residents that there will be an extra police presence on the streets today following the attack
The injured victims were last night understood to be in a critical condition at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
The suspect, 25, was arrested at the scene by a hero lone police sergeant who rugby-tackled him to the floor.
Police have confirmed three people died in the attack, while three others were seriously injured.
One of the patients admitted to Royal Berkshire Hospital after the attack has been discharged, while another remains in a stable condition under observation, a spokeswoman said.
The attack is believed to have taken place as people enjoyed the last of the day’s sunshine at the popular park.
Personal trainer Lawrence Wort, 20, watched the terrifying scenes unfold in the park, which is popular with families and used as a venue for open air concerts and plays.
Mr Wort said: ‘The park was pretty full. One group of friends were sitting drinking when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around, 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.
‘When he realised that he couldn’t catch us, he tried to stab another group sitting down. He got one person in the back of the neck and then, when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out of the park.
And speaking of the moment the suspect was arrested, a police source told the Sunday Mirror: ‘A man pulled a knife and started attacking people at random in Reading, near the Crown Court.
‘It is thought there was one attacker who has surrendered to police.
‘It appears the attack was stopped when a lone sergeant, who responded when the alarm was raised, ran to the scene, saw the attacker running away with a knife and rugby tackled him to the ground.’
Gruesome footage on social media revealed the attack’s appalling aftermath – three men lying a few feet apart on blood-soaked grass. Police arrived within minutes and frantically tried to keep them alive.
Today the Thames Valley Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers in the area, praised the bravery of officers who responded to the attack.
Chairman Craig O’Leary said: ‘First and foremost our thoughts are with the families of those who lost loved ones in the horrific incident last night and we wish our very best to those still injured.
‘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.
‘There are barely words to describe their bravery – officers who ran towards danger with the sole thought of protecting the public we serve. Other colleagues valiantly rushed to the scene to try and save and preserve life.
‘While the investigation into this incident continues, what we can say is the public can rightly be proud of their emergency services today.’
Late last night 20 armed officers swarmed into a four-storey block of flats about a mile from the park as a helicopter circled overhead.
Counter-terrorism police raided a block of flats in Reading after a frenzied stabbing attack ‘by a Libyan man’ left three people feared dead and another three seriously injured
Witnesses said the attacker targeted a group of middle-aged men ‘sitting drinking beer’ in Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre at around 7pm on Saturday and systematically stabbed them ‘in the neck and under the arms’. Pictured: Counter-terror offices raiding a flat around a mile from the park
Around 20 officers swarmed into the four-storey block of flats about a mile from the park as a helicopter circled overhead
They were seen by neighbours with their guns pointed up and one officer carried an enormous disc cutter.
It was unclear last night whether officers were hunting for suspects inside the flats, or whether they were looking evidence. Armed officers were also seen at Forbury Gardens, the scene of the stabbing. Police, with their guns pointed up, were seen walking past a window on the first floor.
It comes as a security source told the Press Association that the man who has been arrested is Libyan.
The BBC has reported that its Home Affairs correspondent, Daniel Sandford, had been told the suspect has previously been to prison in the UK for relatively minor offences – not linked to terrorism.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the ‘senseless’ attack on people ‘enjoying a Saturday evening with family and friends.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also responded to the ‘appalling’ attack and thanked the emergency services in a statement on Twitter.
Today a Downing Street spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister held a meeting at 9am with security officials, police and senior ministers in Number 10.
‘The Prime Minister was updated on the ongoing investigation into the fatal stabbings in Reading.’
Responding to the attack, Ms Patel said in a statement: ‘This evening we saw a senseless attack on people simply enjoying a Saturday evening with family and friends.
‘My heart, prayers and thoughts are with all of those affected and to the people of Reading who will be deeply shocked and concerned by this terrible incident.
‘I am in contact with the police and will ensure they have all the support they need. I would like to thank Thames Valley Police and the emergency services for their response.’
She had earlier written on Twitter that she was ‘deeply concerned’ by the attack.
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer described the stabbing as ‘very concerning’.
He echoed calls by the National Police Chiefs’ Council not to share footage of the incident which circulated online.
He tweeted: ‘Very concerning reports from Reading. Thank you to the police and other emergency service personnel responding. Please follow the advice of the @PoliceChiefs’.
Yesterday an air ambulance was pictured landing near the scene of the stabbings before it carried the injured victims to hospital.
Forbury Gardens was the site of a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest which took place earlier on Saturday but ended three hours before the stabbings. Police and organisers stressed that the attack was completely unrelated to that event.
An air ambulance was pictured landing near the scene of the stabbings before it carried the injured victims to hospital
The mass stabbing led to at least two victims being taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital following the ‘serious incident’ in Forbury Gardens in Reading’s town centre. Pictured: Paramedics and investigators in forensic suits at the scene
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is said to be closely monitoring the situation, said she was ‘deeply concerned’ by the incident
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also responded to the ‘appalling’ attack and thanked the emergency services
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the stabbing in Reading as ‘very concerning’
A distressing video posted on social media showed four wounded people lying on grass as officers gave them CPR. The officers were seen running towards the people on the ground
Following the attack the area was then locked down amid fears there could be a second suspect.
Counter terror police were then pictured raiding an address less than two miles from the park. There were unconfirmed reports that a second man was arrested.
However Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, today said there is nothing to suggest anyone else was involved in the Reading attack and police are not currently seeking anyone else as part of the investigation.
He said: ‘From our inquiries undertaken so far, officers have found nothing to suggest that there was anyone else involved in this attack and presently we’re not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident.
‘However, counter-terrorism detectives work closely with the security services and will work closely with Thames Valley major crime colleagues and we continue to make inquiries to ensure that is the case.
‘Although the motivation for this horrific act is far from certain, counter-terrorism policing have taken responsibility for leading the investigation.
‘However we’re clear that it was not associated in any way with the Black Lives Matter protest which took place peacefully earlier on in the day.’
Meanwhile witness, named Dan, told the Sunday Mirror that the group of people who were attacked were ‘just in a circle chatting.’
He said how he thought the people were playing, ‘duck duck goose’, a children’s game which sees participants sit in a circle while someone taps them on the head.
‘He [the attacker] was tapping them on the head. Then I thought someone had been sick. But it was blood spraying out,’ he said.
The man said he and his friends then got up and began to run away when the attacker began running toward Reading Station.
Counter terror police were pictured raiding a block of flats around two miles from the scene of the stabbing
They were seen in body armour and carrying assault rifles as they ran into the building
One officer carried an enormous circular saw which had been used inside the raided property
Police were on the scene of the attack and at a nearby flat after three people were killed and another three seriously injured
Neighbours were seen outside their flats after the block was evacuated shortly after 8pm
The officers wielded rifles as well as pistols and stun guns. One was seen wearing a balaclava while another wore a mask
The police wore bullet proof vests emblazoned with the letters CTSFO, which stands for Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer
Another witness told Mirror Online he saw blood spurting from victims, who dropped to the ground ‘like a weight’.
A fourth described how they saw CPR being performed on at least three people.
Officers carrying semi-automatic rifles stormed the four-storey flats complex of nearby flats after evacuating residents shortly after 8pm.
A neighbour who witnessed the raid on the flats said: ‘I was making dinner and I heard some noise. I looked outside my door and there were armed police everywhere.
‘I came out and police were on all the floors and in every stairwell. They had the place surrounded.’
The last confirmed UK terror attack took place in February when Sudesh Amman stabbed three people in Streatham, South London, before being shot dead by police.
It was unclear last night whether officers were hunting for suspects inside the flats, or whether they were looking for weapons.
Police closed roads around the scene of the attack which took place in a popular park in Reading city centre
Armed officers were also seen at Forbury Gardens, the scene of the stabbing
Officers, with their guns pointed up, were seen walking past a window on the first floor.
Allister Smith, who was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital earlier today, told BBC Radio 5 Live that a nurse had told him that three people were killed in the attack.
‘I was being seen by a nurse who was taking my vitals,’ he said.
‘She seemed a bit shaken. She was chatting to one of her colleagues and then she turned round to me and said three people are dead.’
Forbury Gardens has been the site of recent Black Lives Matter protests, including one which ended around two hours before the stabbings
After raiding the property in Reading, armed police were seen standing guard outside
Police placed a cordon around the scene of the stabbing and were pictured on guard around it
Reading attack the latest to bring horror to Britain’s streets
A series of terror attacks have brought horror to the streets of Britain in recent years.
The latest saw a multiple stabbing attack in Reading, which is suspected to be terror-related.
The attack took place at around 7pm in Forbury Gardens in the town centre – and a man was arrested at the scene and taken into police custody, Thames Valley Police said.
Here are some of the major domestic incidents in recent years:
– May 22, 2013: Fusilier Lee Rigby died as a result of multiple cut and stab wounds after being attacked in Woolwich, south-east London, by extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. Adebolajo was given a whole-life term and Adebowale was jailed for a minimum of 45 years.
– June 16, 2016: Labour MP Jo Cox was stabbed 15 times and shot three times outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds, a week before the EU referendum. Neo-Nazi Thomas Mair, who shouted ‘Britain first’ in the attack, was given a whole life sentence for the murder.
– March 22, 2017: Kent-born Khalid Masood, 52, was shot dead by police after he drove a rental car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing Pc Keith Palmer, 48, in the Palace of Westminster’s forecourt. US tourist Kurt Cochran, Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, and Britons Aysha Frade and Leslie Rhodes were also killed.
– May 22, 2017: At around 10.30pm, British-born Salman Abedi, 22, walked into the foyer of Manchester Arena as crowds streamed out of an Ariana Grande concert and detonated a device packed with shrapnel, killing 22 people, including children.
– June 3, 2017: A white van hit pedestrians on London Bridge before three men got out of the vehicle and began stabbing people in nearby Borough Market, leaving eight people dead and 48 injured. Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were shot dead by police minutes later.
– June 19, 2017: A group of Muslim worshippers were hit after a van slammed into them near Finsbury Park Mosque, north London, after many of them had attended evening prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. One person died. Darren Osborne was jailed for at least 43 years after being found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
– September 15, 2017: Ahmed Hassan’s homemade bomb partially exploded on a London Underground rush hour train at Parsons Green, injuring more than 50 people. He was sentenced to life with a minimum jail term of 34 years.
– November 29, 2019: Jack Merrit, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were stabbed to death by Usman Khan, 28, at a prisoner rehabilitation event. A man and two women were also injured before Khan, who was released from prison on licence in December 2018, was shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge.
– February 2, 2020: Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police after stabbing two people on a busy street in the south London area of Streatham while wearing a fake suicide vest.
– June 20, 2020: A knife attack at a park in Reading town centre left several people injured in an incident believed to be terror-related, Thames Valley Police said.
The distressing video of the aftermath of the attack showed police giving CPR to one injured person as someone else could be heard saying ‘he’s still breathing’.
Freelance journalist Claire Gould, 33, who lives near the scene, said she saw the air ambulances land on the nearby Kings Meadow as a police helicopter circled overhead.
She described hearing lots of sirens and said surrounding roads and a retail park had been cordoned off by officers.
The organiser of Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protest which took place at the scene of the stabbings, said on Facebook the earlier demonstrations were ‘very peaceful’.
Nieema Hassan said: ‘I have goosebumps knowing that this has happened only a few hours after we all peacefully came together today to talk about change and equality, and it’s pretty heartbreaking that this day has been tarnished with violence.
‘It [the incident] had nothing to do with the protests.
‘They were very peaceful and we worked with police liaison officers the entire time.
‘They actually commented on how peaceful and well done and well thought out the protest was today.
‘I am praying for the people who have been affected. I hope they are okay.’
Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter of Thames Valley Police said officers were keeping an open mind as to possible motives for the incident.
He said: ‘We have made one arrest and at this stage we are not looking for any other people in connection with this incident.
‘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.
‘This is not currently being treated as a terrorism incident, however officers are keeping an open mind as to the motivation for the incident and are being supported by colleagues from Counter Terrorism Policing South East.’
He said a police cordon would continue to remain up in the area ‘for some time’ and there would be an increased police presence in the area as office continue to make enquires.
DCS Hunter added that the attack took place ‘three hours’ after the Black Lives Matter protest had finished and was not connected.
Thames Valley Police earlier said on Twitter: ‘Police attended at around 7pm along with other emergency services.
‘Officers arrested a man at the scene who is now in police custody.
‘A number of people sustained injuries and were taken to hospital.
‘A police cordon is in place in Forbury Gardens as officers investigate. We are asking the public to avoid the area at this time.’
‘There is no indication that this incident is linked to the Black Lives Matter protest that took place in Reading today.’
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said five ambulance crews were dispatched to the scene along with two air ambulances
They said in a statement: ‘We were assessing and treating a number of casualties who had sustained injuries as a result of the incident.
‘Thank you to all those people who stopped and helped those who were injured as a result of this situation.’
The leader of Reading Council, Jason Brock, earlier urged people to stay away from the town centre.
He tweeted: ‘Concerning reports from Reading town centre – please stay clear of the area as Police are dealing with a serious incident.’
Policing minister Kit Malthouse tweeted: ‘An horrific, dreadful incident. Deepest sympathies to all affected.
Please do not speculate or share footage online. Help the police. All information should be provided to @ThamesVP.’
Freelance journalist Claire Gould, 33, who lives near the scene, said she saw the air ambulances land on the nearby Kings Meadow as a police helicopter circled overhead. Pictured: Police at the scene
Thames Valley Police said on Twitter: ‘Police attended at around 7pm along with other emergency services. ‘Officers arrested a man at the scene who is now in police custody
Two air ambulances and several police cars responded to the incident
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