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article imageUK police say 'terror' stabbing suspect likely acted alone

By Dmitry ZAKS (AFP)     Jan 2, 2019 in World

British police said Wednesday it was increasingly likely that a man who stabbed three people on New Year's Eve in Manchester while reportedly shouting "Allah" 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.

He reportedly shouted "Allah" and "long live the Caliphate" before being wrestled to the ground.

"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.

- 'Many questions' -

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 in the coming days.

A sergeant who has already been discharged after being stabbed in the shoulder called the entire experience "overwhelming".

"We had no idea what we were running towards when we heard the screams on New Year’s Eve," Sergeant Lee Valentine said in a statement released by the police.

"When we saw the man wielding a knife, instinct took over and we were able to, in company with Travel Safe Officers from Metrolink, successfully detain the male."

No known terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The suspect's family issued a statement through the police expressing "thoughts and prayers" for the injured and gratitude to the police.

"We are acutely aware that many, including within the media, may well have many questions to ask us," the statement said.

"However, we have been informed by the (police) that there is an active ongoing, terrorist investigation and as such we are limited in what we can say at this stage."

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