Manchester stabbings suspect detained

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Media captionManchester stabbing: Police restrain suspect

A terror suspect arrested over a “frenzied” knife attack on three people in Manchester has been detained under mental health laws.

The 25-year-old is being held on suspicion of attempted murder after the stabbings on New Year’s Eve at the city’s Victoria railway station.

Police said there was nothing to suggest others were involved.

Officers have been praised for their “fearless” response in containing the attacker with pepper spray and Tasers.

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said the suspect had been assessed by specialist staff and detained under the Mental Health Act.

The victims were stabbed at about 21:00 GMT and taken to a nearby hospital with “serious” but not life-threatening injuries.

A woman, aged in her 50s, suffered injuries to her face and stomach, while a man – also in his 50s – has injuries to his stomach.

Image caption Police raided a house in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester

The officer, a police sergeant in his 30s, sustained knife wounds to his shoulder during the attack, but has since been released from hospital.

The suspect lived in the Cheetham Hill area of the city, said police.

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Media captionGMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins says the incident is being treated as “a terrorist investigation”

Officers raided a semi-detached house on Schoolside Close, a mile north of Manchester city centre.

Nearby resident Nousha Babaakachel, 40, said a Somali family lived at the address – a mother and father of five in their 40s, who came to live in the street about 12 years ago from the Netherlands.

She said two of the four sons were at university, one worked at Manchester Airport and the youngest was back in Somalia. They also have a daughter.

Both parents attend the local Khiza Mosque.

‘Terrorism investigation’

At the briefing, Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “I know that the events of last night will have affected many people and caused concern.

“That the incident happened so close to the scene of the terrorist attack on 22 May 2017 makes it even more dreadful.”

Mr Jackson had said that “given how frenzied the attack was” officers had been considering the state of the suspect’s mental health.

“There is wide reporting in the press about what the attacker allegedly said during the incident and because of this we want to be clear, we are treating this as a terrorism investigation,” he said.

He explained officers were “retaining an open mind in relation to the motivation for this attack”.

Police recovered two knives at the scene, but do not yet know if both were used.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The station was shut after the attack and police remain at the scene

Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both said the victims were in their thoughts, with Mrs May praising the “courageous response” of the emergency services, and Mr Corbyn highlighting their “bravery”.

The Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he wished those injured a full recovery.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan, from British Transport Police, said he was “incredibly proud” of the four officers who detained the suspect.

They were “fearless, running towards danger and preventing further harm coming to passengers,” he said.

BBC 5 live producer Sam Clack, who was at the station at the time, said he saw a man stabbed on a tram platform at the station “feet from me”.

Mr Clack also said he heard the knifeman shouting “Allah” during the attack, along with a slogan criticising Western governments.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder

He added he was close to jumping on the tracks as the attacker had a long kitchen knife.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said the attacks appeared to be an isolated incident.

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Media captionMayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham: Stabbings appear to be “an isolated incident”

Mr Clack said he heard a “blood-curdling scream” before he looked down the platform.

“It looked like they were having a fight, but the woman was screaming.

“He came towards me. I looked down and saw he had a kitchen knife with a black handle with a good, 12in blade. It was just fear, pure fear.”

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police said there was “no intelligence to suggest that there is any wider threat at this time”

He said police used pepper spray and a Taser on the detained man, who he said had been resisting arrest.

He said he saw six or seven officers on top of the man, who he described as “very skittish”.

“He was very aggressive and very intent on causing more harm than he actually did,” he said.

“It was very, very scary.”

A support service which was set up after the Arena bomb in 2017 is offering help to those caught up in the Victoria station knife attack.

The NHS Manchester Resilience Hub provides a central point for mental health advice and support.

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