Counter-terrorism officers have declared the stabbing to death of three people in a British park late Saturday a terrorist incident, police said on Sunday.
Thames Valley Police said three others were injured after a stabbing spree by a lone attacker in the town of Reading. They arrested a 25-year-old local man on suspicion of murder.
Dean Haydon, national coordinator for Britain's counter-terrorism policing, had deemed the attack a terrorism incident and his force would take over the investigation, Thames Valley Police said.
"This was a truly tragic incident and the thoughts of Thames Valley Police are with all those who have been affected," Chief Constable John Campbell said in a statement.
"We will be working closely with our partners over the coming days and weeks to support the Reading community during this time, as well as with [counter-terrorism police] as they progress their investigation."
Police officers at Forbury Gardens where the stabbing was reported. Photo: Steve Parsons/dpa
A lone attacker
Three people died and three were injured after a stabbing spree by a lone attacker in a park in the English town of Reading on Saturday, local police said.
Thames Valley Police said they arrested a 25-year-old local man on suspicion of murder and were not seeking other suspects.
At first, the police ruled out that it was a terrorist attack. However, on Sunday they changed their mind.
"This is not currently being treated as a terrorism incident, however officers are keeping an open mind as to the motivation for the incident," said Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter, the force's head of crime.
Hunter said detectives were "being supported by colleagues from Counter Terrorism Policing South East." He also rejected speculation that the attack was linked to a Black Lives Matter protest in the park earlier Saturday.
"I can confirm that this incident is not connected. It occurred around three hours after the protest had concluded," Hunter said.
Police urged people who filmed the aftermath of the attack on mobile phones to hand over the footage and avoid sharing it on social media "out of respect for those deceased and injured, along with their loved ones."
The police said emergency services responded to the incident in Reading's Forbury Gardens around 19:00 (local time).
Forensic officers work at Forbury Gardens after the stabbing incident. Photo: Steve Parsons/dpa
Witness Lawrence Wort told broadcaster Sky News he saw a man walk up to people in the park and stab them before running towards him, saying the attack appeared to be "completely random."
"So the park was pretty full, a lot of people sat around drinking with friends when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them," Wort said.
"He stabbed three of them, severely in the neck, and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running."
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was "deeply concerned to hear reports of an incident in Reading."
"My thoughts are with everyone involved, including police and emergency responders at the scene," Patel tweeted.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted a similar message, saying: "My thoughts are with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading and my thanks to the emergency services on the scene."