Three people have died and another three have been seriously injured after a stabbing attack on Saturday night in Reading, just outside London, police have confirmed.
A 25-year-old man from Reading was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and is in custody, Thames Valley police said. They are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
The attack is “not currently being treated as a terrorism incident”, however Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said they were keeping an open mind on the motive and were being supported by counter-terrorism police.
Hunter said: “There is no intelligence to suggest that there is any further danger to the public, however we urge people to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious by calling police.”
Several hours after the stabbings, police raided a block of flats in Reading. Photos from the scene of the raid showed that counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers were present.
Hunter said there would be an increased police presence in the area amid contuing inquiries. “I would urge the public to avoid the area at this time and thank the community for their patience. We will let you know as soon as the area is back open,” he said.
Reacting to the incident on Sunday morning, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, told Sophy Ridge on SkyNews: “The police are clearly investigating. They have not currently stated that this is a terrorism investigation but rather a murder investigation.”
He added: “My heart goes out to the families, the friends of the victims – clearly it’s a shocking event. The police did a brilliant job last night, firstly during the event and then afterwards. It’s now an operational matter, and we should give them all the space and the support that we need to get to the bottom of it.”
Officers and other emergency services were called to reports of “multiple stabbings” at a park in Forbury Gardens, Reading, at 7pm on Saturday . The suspect, who is understood to be Libyan, was detained at the scene.
Police said several casualties were taken to the Royal Berkshire hospital. Disturbing videos on social media showed scenes of victims receiving resuscitation treatment.
Shortly after the stabbings initial inquiries led to police calling in counter-terrorism investigators, with the security service, MI5, assisting the investigation.
Senior government officials including Boris Johnson, the prime minister, and Priti Patel, the home secretary, are being kept informed of developments.
Suggestions that it was linked to a Black Lives Matter protest that took place in the park earlier on Saturday have been dismissed by police. Organisers said the peaceful protest ended nearly two hours before the incident at 7pm. Crowds who attended had dispersed without any trouble, a spokeswoman said.