Polish family stabbed to death in Channel Islands

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Police on the Channel Island of Jersey waited Monday to question a 30-year-old man over the stabbing deaths of six people, including three young children, and four of them members of a Polish family.

The children all under the age of six, along with one man and two women were found dead Sunday in a flat in the island's capital, St. Helier, police said.

Reports in Poland said all the victims were Polish, but Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull of the States of Jersey Police said only that the victims were from two local families, one of which was originally from Poland.

Gull told a news conference the suspect belonged to the Polish family. He remains under guard at a hospital on the island after undergoing an operation for knife wounds, and police have not yet been able to question him.

"Police are working closely with leaders from both the local St. Helier and Polish communities to support the investigation and local people affected by the tragic incident," Gull said.

It is believed the suspect was the father of two of the children who died, while his estranged wife and his father-in-law were also among the victims.

The other victims are thought to be a family friend and her young child.

Jersey, which lies around 22 kilometres (14 miles) off the coast of northern France, has an extremely low crime rate and the island's Chief Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur, said the stabbings had rocked the community.

"Jersey is a very safe place and events of this terrible nature are very rare. This has greatly shocked the island's community," he said.

"Many will need support and counselling in the days ahead and we will ensure this is provided."

Neighbours of the family said the suspected knifeman had been suicidal over the breakdown of his marriage.

Bryan Ogesa, 24, who witnessed the attack, said he had fended off the "mumbling" attacker with a traffic cone as he came towards them before the man turned his knife on himself.

Ogesa, who ran outside after hearing screaming, said: "A man was chasing a woman with a knife, it was quite long."

He said he had first seen another woman lying on the ground and had gone to help her as he thought she had simply fallen over.

"She was responsive, but just mumbling," he told the Press Association agency. "That's when the guy started coming towards us.

"He was mumbling as well."

Another man, who would give only his first name of John, said he had been in his garden nearby and ran to the scene after hearing a woman scream.

"She shouted 'please help me, please God help me'," he said.

Jersey, which is home to around 90,000 people, used to have a predominantly agriculture-based economy, but the island has become a major offshore financial services hub in recent years.

The Bailiwick of Jersey is not a part of the United Kingdom but a British crown dependency with its own parliament and powers to set its own laws.

© 2011 AFP

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