Reading stabbing treated as terror attack

On Saturday, Khairi Saadallah stabbed and killed three people in a park in Reading. Police have now announced they are treating it as a terrorist attack.

Saadallah, a 25-year-old Libyan refugee, was arrested at the scene of the crime. He was rearrested this morning under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, say reports from Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE). His flat, situated approximately a mile from the scene of the crime, is still under police cordon.

In addition to the three deaths, another two people have been transferred to Royal Berkshire Hospital. The victims were a group of men enjoying beers together in Forbury Gardens, a couple of streets from Reading Station.

Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner has announced the police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack. He also said that while Saadallah’s motives were “far from certain,” the attack was unrelated to the Black Lives Matter protest which occurred earlier that same day. According to the Telegraph, a source has suggested mental health is being considered as a significant factor in the crime.

Basu thanked the 41 witnesses that aided the police in their investigation, and asked the public to “be alert, not alarmed, when you are out in public.” He offered reassurance that people could “continue with their daily lives.”

The belief is that Saadallah came to the UK several years ago, fleeing the civil war in Libya, and caught the attention of MI5 in 2019. Counter terrorism police have raided his flat and taken several items, one of which being a large saw.

Among the victims of the attack were James Furlong, a teacher at Holt Community School in Wokingham, and Joe Ritchie-Bennet, a US citizen originally from Philadelphia, but who had been living in the UK for the past 15 years.

Eyewitnesses have described the park full of people ordinarily sitting down, when Saadallah suddenly shouted something incomprehensible and set about a group of ten people. After stabbing three in the neck and under the arms, he began to pursue others, who fled. Realising the park was rapidly emptying, he then tried to flee.

In a statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he had spoken with the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, as well as offering his condolences to the families of the victims. “If there are lessons we need to learn about how we handle such cases, how we handle the events leading up to such cases, then we will learn those lessons,” …“we will not hesitate to take action where necessary.”

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Jamie Hose

April 2021
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