Deadly stabbing attack in UK’s Reading is a terrorist incident: police

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Members of the media gather outside a police cordon, set up at the Abbey Gateway near Forbury Gardens park in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020 following a stabbing incident the previous day. – British police said Sunday they were keeping an open mind about what prompted a lone suspect to stab three people to death in a park filled with families and friends relaxing in the southern English city of Reading.

BEN STANSALL | AFP via Getty Images

A stabbing attack in the southern English city of Reading is being treated as an act of terrorism, British police said Sunday. The attack, which took place Saturday evening in a public park, left three people dead and another three injured. 

A 25-year-old man from Reading was arrested for suspected murder Saturday night. Reuters reports that the man is Libyan national Khairi Saadallah, citing a Western security source, though the police have not yet confirmed this.

“Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, senior national coordinator for the Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) network, has this morning declared the incident a terrorist incident,” a statement from Thames Valley police said Sunday. The CTP South East will carry out further investigation, the statement added.

“This was an atrocity,”  chief U.K. counter-terrorism officer Neil Basu said. He described unarmed police officers subduing the assailant, and added that the attack was not connected to a demonstration by Black Lives Matter activists held in the same park earlier that day. Reading is about 40 miles west of London. 

The police have said they have no intelligence on any further attacks thus far and believe this to be an isolated incident.

The attacker seemed to strike his victims at random, police and witnesses said. One witness, speaking to the BBC, described the man moving from group to group stabbing people who were talking and drinking with one another in the park.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the attack “appalling” on Sunday, vowing that “lessons will be learned.”

U.K. Home secretary Priti Patel called it “a senseless attack on people simply enjoying a Saturday evening.” 

“My thoughts are with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading and my thanks to the emergency services on the scene,” Johnson said Saturday.

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