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Britain

UK counterterror police probe New Year’s Eve stabbings in Manchester

  • Witness said man shouted ‘Allah’ while stabbing three people at Victoria station before getting pounced on by police
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 9:51am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 10:34pm

Police forensic officers are scouring Manchester’s Victoria station after a man stabbed three people, including a British Transport police officer, during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The incident was being investigated by counterterrorism police officers after the perpetrator was apparently heard shouting Islamist slogans. A man in his 30s was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and was in custody.

National security officials in government, police and security services were helping the investigation in which the British Transport police officer was stabbed in the shoulder, a man and woman in their 50s sustained abdominal injuries, and the woman received wounds to her face.

Manchester city centre police said the incident just before 9pm was one of several “serious crime incidents” overnight, with 15 arrests being made and a total of 120 incidents recorded since 7pm on Monday.

Greater Manchester police said the cordon at the station would be lifted soon, but a large police presence would remain in place. They also said the officer who was attacked, a sergeant in his 30s, had been released from hospital.

“You will see more officers in and around the station throughout the morning but this is not as a result of any increased threat,” the police said. “Please follow directions from officers on the ground and speak to them if you have any concerns.”

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Sam Clack, a BBC producer, was waiting for a tram when the attack took place.

“I just heard this most blood-curdling scream and looked down the platform. What it looked like was a guy in his 60s with a woman of similar age and another guy all dressed in black ... It looked like they were having a fight,” he said.

“I saw police ... come towards him. He came towards me. I looked down and saw he had a kitchen knife with a black handle with a good 12-inch (30cm) blade. It was just fear, pure fear.”

Clack said he heard the man shouting “Allah”: “He shouted it before, he shouted it during it – Allah. He said: ‘As long as you keep bombing other countries, this sort of sh** is going to keep happening.’”

He said police used pepper spray on the man before “six or seven” officers jumped on him.

“It was scary. I have never been so scared in my life. Someone with a knife six to eight feet away, he had just stabbed someone. It was the proximity. It just highlights the fact that it can happen anywhere.”

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While the station was closed after the attack, the city’s fireworks display in Albert Square went ahead amid increased security.

There were no major terrorist attacks in the UK in 2018 but MI5 and the police say they are busy dealing with 700 investigations into suspected terrorism. In 2017, there were five terrorist attacks – four in London and one in Manchester.