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3 killed in UK stabbing attack, being treated as terrorism

City of London Police officers. (PC Matt Hone/City of London Police)
June 21, 2020

Three people were killed and several more were injured in a knife attack in Reading, UK on Saturday.

The attack occurred at Forbury Gardens around 7 p.m. Saturday when a man entered the park and began to attack. Investigators were initially uncertain of the motive on Saturday, but in a Sunday statement, the U.K. Counter Terrorism Police declared the attack a terrorist incident.

“This morning I can formally confirm that this has been declared a terrorist incident,” said Neil Basu, the assistant commissioner of Specialist Operations, which oversees national security and counter-terrorism police activities. “A 25 year old man was arrested yesterday on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.”

Basu said authorities do not believe additional suspects were involved in the attack and they were not looking for additional suspects.

Basu also indicated there was no intelligence suggesting other crowded areas are at risk of similar attacks.

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The Telegraph reported Khairi Saadallah, a refugee from Libya as the man arrested and suspected in the stabbings. Saadallah came to the U.K. several years prior as a refugee following the civil war in Libya.

A security source told The Telegraph that the suspect’s mental health is also being considered as a factor in the attack.

Lawrence Wort, 20, witnessed the attack and described the incident in comments reported by The New York Times,

“The park was pretty full, a lot of people sat around drinking with friends when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went round a large group (of about 10 people) trying to stab them,” said Lawrence Wort, 20, who witnessed the attack.

Wort said the attacker’s eyes looked crazed and he “looked like he was on some sort of drugs.”

Wort said the attacker stabbed three people under the arms and in the neck in the first group he approached, and then turned his attention to another group and stabbed one of them in the back of the neck. Wort said he ran to get away from the knife attack.

Three of those injured in the attack were reported to be in serious condition.

A Black Lives Matter event had taken place at Forbury Gardens earlier in the day, but had concluded hours before the stabbings occurred.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a Sunday meeting with security officials, senior ministers and police, said he would consider legislative changes to prevent additional attacks like the one on Saturday.

Johnson said he was “appalled and sickened” by the news of the attack.