UK police say ‘terror’ stabbing suspect likely acted alone

LONDON (AFP) – British police said on Wednesday it was increasingly likely that a man who stabbed three people on New Year’s Eve in Manchester had acted alone.

Manchester police are conducting a formal ‘terrorist investigation’ into Monday’s incident at the city’s main railway station.

A 25-year-old man whose identity has not been released was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and is being held under Britain’s mental health law.

“The investigation has moved at a very fast pace and detectives are increasingly confident that the man acted alone in the final stages of the attack,” the Manchester Police Department said in a statement.

“The investigation will continue and will examine if anybody may have encouraged or assisted the man to commit the attack.”

Police said investigators are nonetheless studying the man’s possible links to a suicide bombing that killed 22 people during a Manchester Arena concert by the US singer Ariana Grande in May 2017.

The perpetrator of that attack was a 22-year-old born in Manchester to Libyan parents who fled the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Britain has been hit by a spate of attacks in the past few years by assailants acting in self-proclaimed revenge for the government’s various military interventions in the Middle East.

A BBC radio producer who witnessed Monday’s stabbing spree quoted the suspect as saying: “As long as you keep bombing other countries, this sort of shit is going to keep happening.”

The Manchester police statement said its search for evidence and the man’s mental health evaluation would take “months”. A middle-aged couple who suffered non-life-threatening injuries are expected to be released from hospital in the coming days.