U.K. Stabbing That Killed 3 Is Declared a Terrorist Incident

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A stabbing attack in which three people died in a park in the English town of Reading is now being investigated as an act of terrorism, U.K. police said.

Eyewitnesses told how a man approached a group of people in Forbury Gardens in Reading, about 40 miles west of London, and stabbed them. Three other people also sustained serious injuries in the attack that occurred at about 7 p.m. local time on Saturday.

A 25-year-old local man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody. The suspect is of Libyan extraction, a U.K. security official said.

The attack is the latest in a series of terror-related incidents in the U.K. Police shot and killed a man in February in south London after he stabbed two passersby. Two people were killed near London Bridge in November, and eight people died in another attack at the same location in 2017.

After holding a meeting early today with security officials, police and senior ministers in Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled and sickened” by what had happened.

Johnson said that the government and authorities would act swiftly if the circumstances of the attack demonstrated the need to improve the nation’s defenses against such incidents.

“If there are lessons that we need to learn about how we handle such cases, about how we handle the events leading up to such cases, then we will learn those lessons, and we will not hesitate to take action where necessary.”

The February incident in south London and the November attack near London Bridge prompted demands for more rigorous anti-terrorism screening procedures, as both involved attackers who had been released from prison sentences.

A U.K. security official said that Britain’s intelligence community had been fleetingly aware of the Libyan national in 2019 but that his activities didn’t meet the threshold for further investigation. It’s too soon to judge whether he had been motivated by an established terrorist network such as IS or al Qaeda and is at this stage being treated as lone actor, the official said.

Earlier, police said in a statement posted on the Thames Valley Police website that “Counter Terrorism Policing can now confirm that the stabbing incident that happened in Reading last night, has now been declared a terrorist incident.”

The head of counter terrorism policing, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said there was nothing to suggest anyone else was involved in the attack, the Press Association reported.

“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,” he added. The attack “was not associated in any way” with a Black Lives Matter protest that took place in the town earlier on Saturday.

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