Police probe 'terrorist' London Tube stabbings

6th December 2015, Comments 0 comments

A man was being held in custody Sunday after three people were stabbed at a London Underground train station in an attack police were treating as a "terrorist incident".

One witness shouted "You're no Muslim" at the suspect as he was pinned down by officers at a suburban police station, amateur video footage showed, while a pool of blood was seen in the ticket hall.

Sky News reported that witnesses had said the lone suspect spoke of Syria and had "apparently shouted 'this is for Syria'," although it did not quote anyone.

Police could not confirm the report when contacted by AFP and it is not evident from video footage circulating online.

Saturday's attack came at the end of a week in which the British parliament voted to extend air strikes on the Islamic State group (IS) from Iraq into Syria.

The stabbings also come less than a month after the November 13 jihadist rampage in Paris, claimed by IS, which killed 130 people.

Police said one man sustained serious knife injuries in the east London attack, but they were not thought to be life-threatening, while two others sustained minor injuries.

Britain's Counter-Terrorism Command is investigating.

"We are treating this as a terrorist incident," CTC leader Richard Walton said in a statement.

- 'Idiot' -

Amateur video showed a pool of blood and bloody footprints at the ticket gates of Leytonstone Tube station.

Shouts are heard as the suspect is seen remonstrating with people before swinging at one of them.

Footage shows officers shouting "Drop the knife!" and firing Taser electric stun guns, one of which connects.

"Who is this idiot?" one onlooker said of the suspect, adding: "Yes! Stupid idiot," after the man is Tasered.

Officers shout "Put the knife down!" and "Drop it now!" at the stunned man, who did drop the short-bladed knife as he quivered on the ground.

On his front, the man was handcuffed behind his back while another officer pinned him down with his knee and passers-by were told to get back.

One man then shouted at the suspect: "You ain't no Muslim, bruv! You're no Muslim, bruv! You ain't no Muslim!"

The hashtag YouAintNoMuslimBruv was trending on Twitter on Sunday as people reacted to the news.

Witness Khayam told the BBC that when the suspect was taken to a police van, "I saw pedestrians shouting at him... one pedestrian tried to throw a bottle."

He said one victim was taken out on a vertical stretcher.

Witness Michael Garcia, 24, a financial analyst from Leytonstone, said he had seen "a guy, an adult, lying on the floor with a guy standing next to him brandishing a knife of about three inches (7.5 centimetres)", the BBC reported.

"He was screaming 'go on, then, run' to everyone else. He was pacing back and forth next to the guy on the floor."

- Terror threat level 'severe' -

Police said they were called at 7:06 pm (1906 GMT) Saturday to reports of a number of people being stabbed at the Central Line station.

"The male suspect was reportedly threatening other people with a knife," Scotland Yard police headquarters said, adding that a man was arrested and taken to an east London police station where he remains in custody.

Britain's national terror threat level was raised in August 2014 to severe, the second-highest of five levels, meaning an attack is considered highly likely.

"I would urge the public to remain calm, but alert and vigilant," Walton said.

London's transport system was hit in July 2005 by a series of suicide bomb attacks that killed 52 people.

Leytonstone station was open again Sunday, with a police officer standing guard outside.

The station is decorated with mosaics depicting film scenes by director Alfred Hitchcock, who hails from Leytonstone, as does football icon David Beckham.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office said: "There is an ongoing police investigation into the attack in London. We are monitoring the situation closely as further details emerge."

London Mayor Boris Johnson was briefed by the city's police chief, a spokesman said, praising the "swift and professional response" of the police.


© 2015 AFP

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