November 2019
12:17 AM IST
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Man arrested on terror charges after stabbings at UK shopping centre
London: A man in his 40s, arrested in connection with a stabbing incident in which four people were injured at a busy shopping centre in the British city of Manchester on Friday, is being held on terrorism charges after counter-terrorism officers took charge of the investigation into the attack, local police said. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said the accused was formally arrested on suspicion of terrorism after being disabled with a police Taser gun at the Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester city centre.

"The man has been held on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of an act of terrorism," he said. Giving some details of the attack, Jackson said the suspect began "lunging and attacking people with the knife" before being confronted by two unarmed Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) on site. "He then chased them with the knife. While they were calling for urgent assistance, the man began attacking people around him," he said, adding that although the injuries sustained by the victims were "nasty", none of them are "life-threatening". The force had earlier said that given the location and nature of the incident, specialist officers are continuing to investigate after a man was initially arrested on suspicion of serious assault.

The shopping centre is in the vicinity of the Manchester Arena, which was the site of a terror attack by an Islamic State-claimed suicide bomber in 2017, who killed 22 people during musician Ariana Grande''s concert. "Given the location of the incident and its nature officers from Counter Terrorism Police North West are leading the investigation as we determine the circumstances," the GMP statement said. "At this stage we believe that four people were injured during the incident – not five as previously reported," an updated statement later added. According to police reports, a 19-year-old woman, a second woman and a man in his 50s were taken to hospital with stab wounds.

A fourth victim, a woman in her 40s, did not have to be hospitalised as she was not stabbed and was instead treated by emergency services on site. While the attacker''s motivation is not known, the GMP said it believes the suspect acted alone before being eventually brought under control by armed officers. Mobile phone footage from Manchester''s Arndale Shopping Centre showed an officer pointing a Taser at a man lying on his front on the ground, apparently struggling, with a second officer kneeling on top of him. The police has also issued an appeal for the public to share any of their videos and images from the stabbings to assist in their investigations.

The shopping centre was evacuated as police responded to reports of the multiple stabbings. North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) later confirmed that one patient had suffered "serious" injuries. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "Shocked by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected. "Thank you to our excellent emergency services who responded and who are now investigating what happened." UK home secretary Priti Patel also took to Twitter to express her shock and praised the security forces for their quick response to the attack. "Very concerned by the incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with those affected. I am, as always, very grateful to the police for running towards danger to keep us safe. Now important they are given space to carry out their investigation," she said.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Cobyn also said in his statement that his thoughts are with all those injured and their loved ones. "Thank you to the police and emergency services who have swiftly responded and are doing all they can to save lives," he said. Armed police officers wearing face coverings were stationed outside the shopping centre as a long queue of ambulances arrived and a police helicopter hovered overhead. Plainclothes detectives arrived at the scene while uniformed officers told people the Arndale Shopping Centre would remain closed for some time. The UK''s threat level is severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

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