The stabbing of three people – including a police officer – at Manchester Victoria station on New Year’s Eve is being treated as a terror related incident, police have confirmed.
A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
Two knives were recovered at the scene and a property is being searched in the Cheetham Hill area. The security services are assisting police.
In a briefing on Tuesday morning Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins added: “Last night we experienced a horrific attack on people out to simply enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Manchester. “My thoughts are with the couple who are still being treated in hospital for their serious injuries and with the brave British Transport Police officer who was also stabbed during the attack.
The three victims were taken to a nearby hospital with “serious” but not life-threatening injuries. A woman in her 50s suffered injuries to her face and stomach, while a man – also in his 50s – has injuries to his stomach.
Manchester Victoria railway station has reopened after the stabbings.
Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), told reporters at a briefing at force HQ the suspect lived in the Cheetham Hill area of the city. He said officers were carrying out a search at his address.
“There is wide reporting in the press about what the attacker allegedly said during the incident and because of this we want to be clear, we are treating this as a terrorism investigation,” he said. Adding that officers are nevertheless also “retaining an open mind in relation to the motivation for this attack”, he said there was no information “to suggest at this time others are involved”. He said police were still trying to establish whether the suspect is a British national; and that “given how frenzied the attack was”, they are also “obviously considering his mental health”.
Police recovered two knives at the scene but do not yet know if both were used in the attack, he added.
Manchester Metrolink said services to the station are operating “to the normal pattern” but advised of “minor delays”.
Officers said counter terrorism police were leading the inquiry. The officer, a police sergeant in his 30s, was stabbed in the shoulder and released from hospital on Tuesday. The Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he wished those injured a “full recovery”.
ACC Sean O’Callaghan from British Transport Police said he was “incredibly proud” of the four officers who detained the suspect. They were “fearless, running towards danger and preventing further harm coming to passengers,” he said.
Police raided a newly built semi-detached house on Schoolside Close in Cheetham Hill, a mile north of Manchester city centre on Tuesday morning.
Nousha Babaakachel, 40, said a Somali family live at the address, a mother and father of five in their forties who came to live in the street around 12 years ago from the Netherlands. She said two of the four sons are at university, one works at Manchester Airport and the youngest is back in Somalia. They also have a daughter. Both parents attend the local Khiza Mosque.
BBC 5 live producer Sam Clack, who had been at the station at the time, said he saw a man stabbed on a tram platform at the station “feet from me”. Mr Clack also said he heard the knifeman shouting “Allah” during the attack, along with a slogan criticising Western governments. He added he was “close to jumping on the tracks” as the attacker had a “long kitchen knife”.
Greater Manchester Police, which declared the attack a “critical incident”, said it understood that people would be worried but there was “no intelligence to suggest that there is any wider threat at this time”.
Mr Clack said he first “heard this most blood-curdling scream and looked down the platform”. “It looked like they were having a fight, but the woman was screaming in this blood-curdling way. I saw police in high-vis come towards him. He came towards me. “I looked down and saw he had a kitchen knife with a black handle with a good, 12in blade. It was just fear, pure fear.” He said police used pepper spray and a Taser on the detained man, who he said had been “resisting arrest”.
He said he saw “six or seven” officers on top of the man, who he described as “very skittish”. “He was very aggressive and very intent on causing more harm than he actually did,” he said. “It was very, very scary.” Police said the woman had injuries to her face and abdomen and the man had injuries to his abdomen.
The New Year firework display in Albert Square went ahead.