In Brief

Manchester stabbing was ‘terror attack’

Man detained under mental health laws after three people injured in ‘frenzied’ knifing at city’s Victoria train station

The stabbing of three people in Manchester on New Year’s Eve is being treated as a terrorist attack after the perpetrator was heard shouting Islamist slogans and “Allah” before being subdued.

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) described the knifing, which took place at the city’s Victoria train station, as “frenzied” and “random in nature”.

A couple in their 50s suffered serious facial and abdomen injuries. A member of British Transport Police also sustained a stab wound to his shoulder. 

Witness Sam Clack was waiting for a tram at the station, near the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing, when the attack took place. Clack, a BBC producer, said: “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, but she was screaming in this blood-curdling way. I saw police in hi-vis come towards him. 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.”

The attacker was immediately tasered and pepper-sprayed by police, before six or seven officers jumped on him. 

Clack said the attacker shouted “Allah” several times before yelling: “As long as you keep bombing other countries, this sort of shit is going to keep happening.”

Counterterrorism police yesterday raided a house in the Cheetham Hill area of the city and seized two knives following the arrest of a 25-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder. The authorities say the suspect has been detained under mental health laws.

It’s believed the suspect acted alone and was not part of a wider terror plot, although the BBC reports that the security services are assisting the police.

Local woman Nousha Babaakachel told The Daily Telegraph that a Somali couple in their 40s with five children had been living at the address for around 12 years after moving to the area from the Netherlands.

According to Babaakachel, two of the family’s four sons are at university, one works at Manchester Airport and the youngest is back in Somalia. The couple also have a daughter.

Jackson said the incident was being treated as a terrorism investigation but that officers were nevertheless keeping “an open mind in relation to the motivation for this attack”.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said that many people would have been affected by the attack, particularly as it happened very close to the scene of the 2017 suicide bombing at Manchester Arena, which claimed the lives of 22 people.

“I believe that makes it an even more dreadful attack for our city,” he told reporters.

Britain is on its second-highest threat level of severe. This means an attack is considered “highly likely”, says Reuters.

The news agency reports that security officials say they are facing record levels of work in countering Islamist militants as well as far-right extremists after four major attacks last year.

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