READING, England (Reuters) – The English town of Reading held a minute’s silence on Monday for the victims of a stabbing that killed three people, in an attack that police called a terrorist incident.
Three people were also hospitalised after a man wielding a five-inch knife went on the rampage in a park on Saturday, randomly stabbing people enjoying a sunny, summer evening.
A Western security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the suspect was a 25-year-old Libyan called Khairi Saadallah.
Calling the incident terrorism, police said a 25-year-old had been arrested and they were not hunting others. “What we saw here on Saturday evening in Reading was the actions of one lone individual,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
Patel later told parliament that the risk from lone attackers was growing, and that if further government action was needed to stop such incidents, she would not hesitate to act.
The Philadelphia Inquirer said one of the dead was U.S. citizen Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, who had lived in Britain for 15 years. U.S. ambassador Woody Johnson sent condolences to the families of the victims. “To our great sorrow, this includes an American citizen,” he said on Twitter.
Teacher James Furlong, 36, who was friends with Ritchie-Bennett according to media reports, was also killed. “He was beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun,” his parents said.
The BBC and other British media named the third victim as David Wails, a scientist.
ON MI5’S RADAR
The security source told Reuters that Saadallah had been on the radar of Britain’s domestic security agency, MI5, last year, over intelligence he had aspirations to travel for extremist purposes, although his plans then came to nothing.
“The security services have records on thousands of people and rightly so,” said Patel, adding she was limited in what she could say because the investigation was live.
Shocked residents of Reading, about 40 miles (65 km) west of London, held a minute’s silence at 0900 GMT.
The attack was reminiscent of some recent incidents in Britain that authorities have also called terrorism.
In February, police shot dead a man, previously jailed for promoting violent Islamist material, who had stabbed two people on a busy street in south London. Last November, another man who had been jailed for terrorism offences stabbed two people to death on London Bridge before he too was shot dead by police.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden and William James; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Rosalba O’Brien)