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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 January 2019

UK police investigating New Year's knifings as 'terrorist attack'

'Critical incident' which injured three people took place as revellers headed to Manchester city centre to celebrate the new year

Police stand at the end of a tram platform following a stabbing at Victoria station in Manchester. Reuters
Police stand at the end of a tram platform following a stabbing at Victoria station in Manchester. Reuters

A British police investigation into a stabbing at a Manchester railway station on New Year’s Eve, in which three people were injured, is being treated as “a terrorist investigation”, the city’s chief constable said yesterday.

Counter-terrorism officials arrested a man, who remains in police custody, on suspicion of attempted murder and are searching an address where he recently lived in the city, Chf Const Ian Hopkins said.

Mr Hopkins told of a “horrific attack” on three people, including a police officer, at Victoria station in the northern English city on Monday evening.

“We are treating this as a terrorist investigation which is being led by counter-terrorism officers with support from Greater Manchester Police,” he said.

A British Transport Police officer was stabbed in the shoulder and a man and a woman, both in their 50s, were left with “serious injuries” in the attack.

The two had abdominal wounds and the woman also had injuries to her face.

The incident happened about 8.50pm when many revellers would have been enjoying New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Witness Sam Clack, 38, a BBC radio producer, described the attack.

“I just heard this most blood-curdling scream and looked down the platform,” Mr Clack said. “He came towards me. I looked down and saw he had a kitchen knife with a black handle and a good 30-centimetre blade.

“It was just fear, pure fear.”

Mr Clack said police used a stun gun and pepper spray before six or seven officers jumped on the man.

He said the suspect had shouted: “As long as you keep bombing other countries, this sort of thing is going to keep happening.”

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Another witness, Rebekka, told the UK’s Daily Mirror newspaper that she heard a scream and turned to see people running towards her.

“I jumped off the tram station and started to run down the tram lines, and hid behind some concrete slabs under one of the railway arches,” she said.

“I was really scared. I didn’t know if I was going to die.”

Authorities called the attack a critical incident and Manchester’s assistant chief constable Rob Potts said the investigation was being led by counter-terrorism police, and that all were keeping an “open mind”.

“Tonight’s events will have understandably worried people but I need to stress that the incident is not ongoing, a man is in custody and there is no intelligence to suggest that there is any wider threat at this time,” Mr Potts said.

The city’s New Year celebrations went ahead in the main Albert Square despite the incident, although increased security was brought in.

The city suffered a suicide attack in May last year, when 22 people were killed and 139 injured at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena.

The bomber, Salman Abedi, 22, was born and raised in Manchester.

Updated: January 1, 2019 07:03 PM

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