Reading terror attack had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter protest
Britain’s most senior BAME police officer has stressed the Reading terror attack had nothing to do with a peaceful Black Lives Matter protester held in the town.
Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who is also the head of counter terrorism policing, said that although ‘motivation for the attack is far from certain’ it was not associated with the protest which had finished hours earlier.
Three people were stabbed to death and another three seriously injured during the frenzied knife attack, which is now being treated as a terrorist incident.
A 25-year-old man, who is believed to be a Libyan asylum seeker, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody.
Speaking in London, Mr Basu said there is nothing to suggest anyone else was involved in the attack and police are not currently seeking anyone else as part of the investigation.
He said: ‘From our inquiries undertaken so far, officers have found nothing to suggest that there was anyone else involved in this attack and presently we’re not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident.
‘However, counter-terrorism detectives work closely with the security services and will work closely with Thames Valley major crime colleagues and we continue to make inquiries to ensure that is the case.
‘Although the motivation for this horrific act is far from certain, counter-terrorism policing have taken responsibility for leading the investigation.
‘However we’re clear that it was not associated in any way with the Black Lives Matter protest which took place peacefully earlier on in the day.’
Witnesses said the attacker targeted middle-aged men ‘drinking beer’ at around 7pm in Forbury Gardens in the town centre, stabbing them ‘in the neck and under the arms’, MailOnline reports.
Horrifying footage circulating online shows three men lying a few feet apart on grass soaked in blood.
A hero lone police sergeant reportedly rugby-tackled the suspect to the floor, as other officers tried to keep the victims alive.
At least two casualties are being treated in the emergency department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, a spokeswoman said.
Police chiefs today praised the brave officers who ‘who ran towards danger with the sole thought of protecting the public we serve’, while the Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the attack as ‘appalling’.
Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said: ‘We have made one arrest and at this stage we are not looking for any other people in connection with this incident.
‘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.’
He added: ‘Officers are keeping an open mind as to the motivation for the incident and are being supported by colleagues from Counter Terrorism Policing South East.’
Personal trainer Lawrence Wort, 20, who said he was around 10 metres from the attack, said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘When he realised that he couldn’t catch us, he tried to stab another group sat down, he got one person in the back of the neck and then when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out the park.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: ‘My thoughts are with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading and my thanks to the emergency services on the scene.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement: ‘This evening we saw a senseless attack on people simply enjoying a Saturday evening with family and friends.
‘My heart, prayers and thoughts are with all of those affected and to the people of Reading who will be deeply shocked and concerned by this terrible incident.
‘I am in contact with the police and will ensure they have all the support they need. I would like to thank Thames Valley Police and the emergency services for their response.’