Police are investigating the stabbing of three people in an east London subway station as a “terrorist incident” following reports the attacker reportedly shouted “This is for Syria.” Video posted on Twitter showed a pool of blood at the Leytonstone subway station, apparently from the one man who suffered serious, although not life-threatening, injuries from the attack. Two other people suffered minor injuries.
Video posted on Twitter showed police subduing the suspect, believed to be 29 years old, with a stun gun and arresting him on Saturday night. “We are treating this as a terrorist incident,” said Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command. “I would urge the public to remain calm but alert and vigilant. The threat from terrorism remains at severe, which means that a terrorist attack is highly likely.”
One witness tells the Guardian that the attacker was a tall black man with an Arabic accent who was “very strong” and “punched like a boxer.” The man who was attacked apparently was carrying a musical instrument. “I was inside the shop and I heard screaming and shouting,” Salim Patel, who works in the station, said. “When they came downstairs, this tall young guy was hitting and punching the victim so hard he fell on the floor. The person was shouting, ‘Help me, help me, somebody help me.’ He was in agony.”
Another witness told LBC Radio that once the attacker started stabbing, the victim was pretty much left alone as people quickly ran away. “It was scary and it was empty, nobody was there. Everybody was saying ‘Leave him, leave him’ and shouting from a distance.”
A financial analyst who was entering the station when people were running outside told the BBC it was quickly evident that “it wasn’t a fight but something more sinister.” He then saw “a guy, an adult, lying on the floor with a guy standing next to him brandishing a knife of about three inches … maybe a hobby knife.” The knife “had a thin blade, but looked fairly long.”
Police have declined to say whether they’re looking for other suspects, but detectives believe the attacker acted alone.