At least three people have been found dead in the streets of Nottingham, a city in the English Midlands, according to British police.
Initially, two people were found dead on Tuesday in the centre of the city. Just after 4am (03:00 GMT), police officers were called to another incident in which the driver of a van had tried to run over three people. They were injured and are being treated in hospital.
Another man was found dead in another road just outside the city centre.
A 31-year-old man was arrested in the city on suspicion of murder, officers said in a statement.
No indication was given of the motive for the incident, but the police statement made no mention of counter-terrorism officers being involved.
“It is too early to comment on casualties or the exact nature of the incident,” the East Midlands Ambulance Service said.
The University of Nottingham later said on Twitter that two of the victims were its students.
“We are shocked and devastated by the news and our thoughts are with those affected, their families and friends,” the statement said.
Students cancelled the graduation ball that was scheduled on Tuesday evening.
Awful news for our city to wake up to today. Our community’s thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. Our gratitude is with our blue light responders for their work today also.
— Alex Norris MP (@AlexNorrisNN) June 13, 2023
“This is an horrific and tragic incident which has claimed the lives of three people,” Chief Constable Kate Meynell said in the statement.
“We believe these three incidents are all linked and we have a man in custody. This investigation is at its early stages and a team of detectives is working to establish exactly what has happened,” she added.
She asked the public to be patient while inquiries continue.
“At this time, a number of roads in the city will remain closed as this investigation progresses,” she said.
Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from London, said the local tram network shut down all operations although other forms of transport were still running.
“The police have not given us any more details about any motives of the suspect,” he said.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thanked the police and emergency services for their response to the shocking incident in Nottingham and said police must be given the time to do their work.
“My thoughts are with those injured, and the family and loved ones of those who have lost their lives,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Awful news for our city to wake up to today,” Alex Norris, a lawmaker for Nottingham, said on Twitter. “Our community’s thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.”
Witnesses described a horrifying scene in the city centre about 90 minutes after the three people were killed and the van ran into pedestrians at a street corner and then fled.
According to AP news agency, Lynn Haggitt was on her way to work when a white van pulled up beside her at 5:30am (04:30 GMT).
She saw the driver look in his mirror and spot a police car approaching slowly from behind without its lights on.
The driver then accelerated and struck a man and woman at a street corner, she said.
“He went straight into them, he didn’t even bother to turn,” Haggitt told reporters.
“The woman went on the curb, the man went up in the air, there was such a bang, I wish I never saw it, it’s really shaken me up.”
The driver then sped through the city centre with police on his tail, she added.
She said the wounded man appeared to have a head injury but was helped to his feet. The woman was sitting on the curb and appeared to be OK.
The third pedestrian was struck on the same street, police said. All three were hospitalised, with one in critical condition.
Photos showed the hood of the van dented and cracks in the windshield.