Terrorism Suspected In London Knife Attack That Left One Dead, Five Injured [Updated]

An unprovoked knife attack in London left one dead and five injured, as the question of whether the senseless act was random or the result of another terrorist attack. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the possibility of terrorism was “being explored” in knifing attack at Russell Square that happened around 10:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. ET), according to Fox News.

The call about an armed man attacking people with a knife left one 60-year-old woman dead and five others — a woman and four men — injured. The severity of the survivors’ injuries is unknown and it is believed that one of the victims is American. The 19-year-old suspect was hospitalized and taken into custody after police tasered him. His mental health could be a “significant factor,” according to the police, although the question of terrorism hasn’t been ruled out based on statements the alleged attacker made while attacking the victims.

Russell Square is located near the British Museum in the Bloomsbury section of central London and is in close proximity to where two of the four terrorist bombings that occurred on July 7, 2005, which left 52 people dead. Fortunately, since the 2005 bombings, Britain hasn’t had the same issues with mass casualties that other areas in Europe have seen such as Istanbul, Brussels, and Paris.

The U.K. was already on high alert, knowing that the possibility of a terror attack was a matter of “when,” and not “if,” according to Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. Authorities knew an attack was “highly likely,” and the citizens were on alert that the terror threat level was severe.

“Anyone who’s been following events in Europe over the past few weeks will understand why we want to show our determination to protect the public. We are deadly serious about the protection that we are offering the people of London and we will never be complacent.”

Law enforcement had just announced that as part of a new anti-terrorism operation, 600 additional armed officers would be deployed across London as a means to show they are serious about protecting their citizens, following recent terrorist attacks in Europe.

A taxi driver told Sky News that he saw a body lying on the street opposite of the Imperial Hotel. “The pavement was all taped off by police,” said Paul Hutchinson, who noted that there was a body on the ground.

“There was lots of armed police and other police and you could see the boots of the body sticking out where the body was. The body was covered up by a sheet.”

Additional units have been deployed to the area to provide reassurance to the public that the situation is being handled and that the attack was limited to that single person.

A drop in police presence is attributed to the decrease in “stop and search” after the controversial shooting of Mark Duggan in 2011. Tottingham police suspected that Duggan was in the process of committing a crime when they stopped a vehicle he was in and shot him in the process. The riots lasted for days, starting in London but spreading throughout the country, leading to an overhaul on how searches are conducted in order to improve the relationship between police and the public.

A BBC report indicates that knife crimes have increased by 16 percent in the last two years as stop and search decreased by 41 percent in the past year. Witnesses to the knife attack criticized the lack of police presence, citing that police arrived too late to prevent the crime.

Thus far, no known terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the Russell Square knife attacks.

UPDATE:

Terrorism has been ruled out in the London knife attacks in Russel Square Park, according to the WSJ. Authorities say there is no evidence that the 19-year-old suspect was radicalized despite comments witnesses said he made while attacking. Authorities believe the man — who is a Norwegian of Somali descent — may suffer from mental illness. The 60-year-old woman killed in the knife attack was an American.

[Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Images]