One man was killed and two people critically injured during a “random” stabbing attack in Britain’s second city of Birmingham, West Midlands Police said on Sunday.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said a murder inquiry had been launched but there was “no suggestion at all that this was terror-related.
“It does appear to be a random attack,” he added.
Police had earlier said there was a “major incident” after reports surfaced of a number of people injured in stabbings early on Sunday.
“We can confirm that at approximately 12:30am today [Sunday], we were called to reports of a stabbing in Birmingham city centre,” police said in a statement.
“A number of other stabbings were reported in the area shortly after and “this has been declared a major incident”, the statement added.
Footage aired on British television news channels showed large areas of the city centre cordoned off as police officers wearing forensic suits worked at the scene.
The BBC said the incidents occurred near the area known as the Gay Village in the centre of Birmingham, where many people had been seated at outdoor tables eating and drinking.
“Work is still going on to establish what has happened, and could take some time before we are in a position to confirm anything,” West Midlands Police said earlier on Sunday.
“At this early stage, it would not be appropriate to speculate on the causes of the incident.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was “a very serious incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
He said he had no information suggesting the stabbings were related to terrorism.
Emergency services were at the scene to ensure the injured received medical care. Police said the response would continue “for some time” and urged people to stay away from the area.
Cara Curran, a club promoter, said she saw multiple people fighting in the street.
“It was one group of boys against another group of boys,” she told the BBC, adding that “racial slurs” were being thrown.
Meanwhile, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the series of incidents in the Hurst Street area of the city centre appeared to be related but the motivation for them was not yet understood.
He urged people “to not speculate about the incident” and to “remain calm but vigilant.”