No terror link in London stabbing by Somalian that left US woman dead

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Aug 04, 2016 21:28 IST
Armed police personnel patrol in London's Trafalgar Square on August 4, 2016, following an overnight knife attack in Russell Square in which one woman was killed and five others injured. (AFP)

A 19-year-old Norwegian national of Somali origin with mental health issues was arrested on Thursday after he went on an overnight stabbing spree in London’s Russell Square, killing a woman in her 60s and injuring five others.

The rampage prompted a response tailored for a terror attack, but police said after initial investigation there was no evidence of link to radicalisation or terrorism.

“This morning we have searched an address in north London and will search another in south London. So far we have found no evidence of radicalisation or anything that would suggest the man in our custody was motivated by terrorism,” Assistant police commissioner Mark Rowley said.

“Whilst the investigation is not yet complete - all of the work that we have done so far, increasingly points to this tragic incident as having been triggered by mental health issues”, he said, adding that embassies of the victims’ countries of origin had been informed.

The woman who died was identified as an American citizen. The five injured were from the US, Britain, Israel and Australia.

The police said three of the five have been discharged while two remained in hospital with non-life threatening injuries suffered in what the police called a “random” attack.

London has been on alert this week after the head of Scotland Yard issued two statements announcing an increase in number of armed police in public places, and stating that a terror attack here was a matter of ”when, not if.”

Russell Square, a busy area in central London frequented by many tourists and students, was the scene of one of the London bombings in July 2005.

It was opened to the public on Thursday morning after investigations and clearing operations overnight at the crime scene.

The man arrested was neutralised by a taser gun soon after the police were called by members of the public around 2230 GMT on Wednesday (0300 IST Thursday).

He received treatment in a hospital and was then moved to police custody in south London.

Local residents said they had not seen such police presence in London since 2005, but the situation was normal on Thursday morning, with police cordons lifted.

Shyam Sanghani, who runs a shop opposite the scene of the attack, told BBC: “We had more police announced yesterday and then this today, it's scary. We had Russell Square bombing just close by and now this. We've been here a long time and to have two incidents is awful. This is our home.”

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