Libyan man in custody for UK terrorist attack: Source

Police stand guard at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens, a day after a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens in Reading, England on June 21, 2020. (AP)

A stabbing rampage that killed three people and wounded three others in the southern English town of Reading was an act of terrorism, police said on Sunday, calling the attack in a sunny park an atrocity.

A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after the stabbings on Saturday evening in Reading, west of London.

A Western security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the man, who remains in police custody, is a Libyan called Khairi Saadallah.

Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism police officer, Neil Basu, said a man had run into Forbury Gardens and attacked people with a knife before being detained by unarmed officers. He said it had been declared terrorism after detectives worked through the night on the case.

A police van is pictured outside a block of flats where the suspect of a multiple stabbing incident the previous day is believed to have lived, in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020. (AFP)

A police van is pictured outside a block of flats where the suspect of a multiple stabbing incident the previous day is believed to have lived, in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020. (AFP)

“This was an atrocity,” Basu said.

He said there was nothing to suggest anyone else was involved and they were not hunting further suspects.

While the motivation for the attack was far from certain, he said there was no intelligence that crowded places were at risk.

The victims have not yet been identified.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a meeting on Sunday with security officials, senior ministers and police to be updated about the investigation.

He said he was “appalled and sickened” by the attack and said Britain would change the law if needed to prevent any future incidents.

“If there are lessons we need to learn ... we will learn those lessons and we will not hesitate to take action if necessary,” he said.

Floral tributes are seen at a police cordon at the Abbey Gateway near Forbury Gardens park in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020. (AFP)

Floral tributes are seen at a police cordon at the Abbey Gateway near Forbury Gardens park in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020. (AFP)

Initially police and the government had said the incident did not appear to be terrorism and they were keeping an open mind as to the motive.

A witness said the attack began when a man suddenly veered toward a group of about eight to 10 friends and began stabbing them. The attack took place hours after a rally by anti-racism protesters in the park but Basu said the two incidents were not related.

“The Black Lives Matter event had finished some three hours previous and was by all accounts a very well conducted peaceful demonstration and this is not a connected attack with that whatsoever,” Jason Brock, the head of the local council authority, told BBC TV.

Current coronavirus restrictions mean venues like pubs are closed, so many people in Britain gather in parks in the evenings to meet friends.

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Last Update: Sunday, 21 June 2020 KSA 16:32 - GMT 13:32
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