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Three dead in Reading terror attack

Khairi Saadallah stabbed and killed three people in Reading on Saturday. 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 all people lounging around and enjoying the fresh air in Forbury Gardens a couple of streets from Reading Station.

 Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu has announced the police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack. He also said that while Saadallah’s motives were as yet “far from certain,” it was nothing to do with the Black Lives Matter protest which took place earlier that same day. The Telegraph reports a source has suggested mental health is being considered 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, David Wails, and Joe Ritchie-Bennet, a US citizen originally from Philadelphia, but who had been living in the UK for the past 15 years.

Eye-witnesses have described the park full of people sitting down and enjoying beers with friends, when Saadallah 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, so he turned his attentions to the ones still sitting down. Once he realised the park was rapidly emptying, he too tried to run.

Prime Minister Johnson said he has talked with and thanked 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,” Johnson said, “and we will not hesitate to take action where necessary.”

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Jamie Hose

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October 2021
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