US woman killed in London knife attack, no evidence of terrorism link say police
LONDON – Reuters
REUTERS photoA U.S. woman was killed and five other people injured by a man with suspected mental health issues who went on a rampage with a knife in central London, but police said there was no evidence that the attack was terrorism related.
Armed police were called at 10:33 p.m. after a Norwegian man of Somali origin with a knife started to attack people in London’s Russell Square, an elegant park near the site of a 2005 suicide bombing.
The victim, a U.S. citizen in her 60s, was treated at the scene but pronounced dead a short time later.
Another woman and four men were treated in hospital, though three of them were later discharged.
Nationals from Australia, Britain, Israel and the United States were among those hurt.
“All of the work we have done so far increasingly points to this tragic incident as having been triggered by mental health issues,” said London Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley.
“We believe this was a spontaneous attack and that the victims were selected at random,” said Rowley, who is Britain’s most senior anti-terrorism officer.
“So far we have found no evidence of radicalization that would suggest that the man in our custody is in any way motivated by terrorism,” said Rowley. Initially he said that terrorism was a line of inquiry.
Police, who arrived within six minutes of being called, used a Taser electric shock gun while detaining the 19-year-old suspect. He was later formally arrested on suspicion of murder.
Police cordoned off the southern part of the square, which sits at the heart of London’s university area and is close to landmarks such as the British Museum, for several hours as forensics officers examined the attack scene.
Later, workmen hosed blood off the pavement.
London’s Sadiq Khan called for vigilance and urged Londoners to report anything suspicious to the police, who increased their presence in the capital.
“The safety of all Londoners is my number one priority and my heart goes out to the victims of the incident in Russell Square and their loved ones,” he said.