UK police: Manchester stabbings treated as terrorism
London — Police in the English city of Manchester are quizzing a suspect and searching a house for clues about the “terror-related” stabbings of three people at a train station on New Year’s Eve.
The attack Monday night by a knife-wielding man yelling Islamic slogans brought terrorism back to Manchester after a 19-month hiatus. It took place at a key transport hub right next to the Manchester Arena, where 22 people were killed in an attack on an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.
Monday’s stabbing attack left a man and a woman hospitalized with “very serious” but not life-threatening injuries and a man in custody, police said. Both the victims have abdominal injuries and the woman also has injuries to her face.
A British Transport Police sergeant who was also stabbed in the shoulder was released after an overnight hospital stay.
Police say they are treating the attack as a terrorist incident, and the investigation is being headed by counterterrorism police with help from the security services. Tightlipped U.K. authorities have not commented on a possible motive for the attack, and the suspect in his mid-20s has not been charged or identified.
Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said police believe they have identified the suspect and were searching his home in the Cheetham Hill neighborhood of Manchester. He described the attack as frenzied and random.
“We know the attacker arrived at the location and soon after he attacked two people, a man and a woman, who have suffered very serious injuries,” he said.
The attack happened at Manchester’s Victoria Station shortly before 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
BBC producer Sam Clack, who was on the train platform, said he heard a “blood-curdling scream” when the attack started and saw a man dressed in black having what looked like a fight with two victims. Clack said he heard the man with the weapon shout Islamic extremist slogans during the assault and then the attacker was chased by police.
“He came towards me. I looked down and saw he had a kitchen knife with a black handle with a good, 12-inch blade,” Clack said, adding that his reaction “was just fear, pure fear.”
Clack said police used pepper spray and a stun gun to bring the man down.
Police say there’s no indication that any others were involved in planning or helping the attack.
The incident is “not ongoing” and there is “currently no intelligence to suggest that there is any wider threat,” Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said.
The train station reopened Tuesday and extra police officers were on the city’s streets as a precaution.
Prime Minister Theresa May expressed concern for the victims and thanked emergency workers for their “courageous response.”
Britain’s official threat level has long been set at “severe,” indicating that intelligence analysts believe an attack is highly likely.