British police have said they are treating a stabbing rampage that killed three people in a park in the southern city of Reading as a “terrorist attack”.
Three other people were seriously wounded in the attack that took place on Saturday in the city’s Forbury Gardens Park.
A 25-year-old man was arrested on Saturday evening on suspicion of murder after the stabbings in Reading, which is about 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of London.
“This was an atrocity,” said Neil Basu, the United Kingdom’s most senior counterterrorism police officer, adding that there was nothing to suggest anyone else was involved and they were not looking for further suspects.
While the motivation for the attack was far from certain, he said there was no intelligence that crowded places were at risk.
Basu said “incredibly brave” unarmed officers from the Thames Valley Police force arrested a 25-year-old local man at the scene. The Thames Valley force later said counterterrorism detectives were taking over the investigation.
The victims have not yet been identified.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a meeting on Sunday with security officials, senior ministers and the police to be updated about the investigation.
He said he was “appalled and sickened” by the attack and said the UK would change the law if needed to prevent any future incidents.
“If there are lessons we need to learn … we will learn those lessons and we will not hesitate to take action if necessary,” he said.
A Black Lives Matter protest took place at the park earlier that day but police said there was no indication the two incidents were connected.
Witnesses reported seeing two air ambulances and several police cars rush to the park on Saturday evening.
One witness described a lone assailant walking through a park filled with people and stabbing them at random.
“The park was pretty full. A lot of people sat around drinking with friends,” Lawrence Wort told the Press Association.
“One lone person walked though, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them.”
Wort said he saw three people being stabbed “in the neck and under the arms”.
The assailant then lunged at another group and “got one person in the back of the neck”, Wort said.
“Then when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out the park,” said the witness.
Officials said two people were being treated in the emergency department of Reading’s Berkshire Hospital.
An overwhelming majority of the UK’s serious crimes are committed with knives and other stabbing weapons because of the country’s strict gun ownership laws.