London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged Londoners to “remain claim” but also “vigilant” after a woman was stabbed to death and five others were injured in the capital on Wednesday night.
Police were called to Russell Square shortly before 10.30am following reports a man armed with a knife was “assaulting people”.
A 19-year-old was tasered and is now in police custody on suspicion of murder. The incident came after police had earlier announced plans to boost the number of armed officers on London streets in response to recent terrorist attacks across Europe.
A woman, believed to be in her 60s, was treated at the scene, but died a short time later. Two other people injured at the scene remain in hospital and another three were treated, and then discharged.
Khan on Thursday issued a statement saying: “The safety of all Londoners is my number one priority and my heart goes out to the victims of the incident in Russell Square and their loved ones.”
The mayor said he had spoken with the police commissioner, and the assistant commissioner, “who had assured me that our police officers are working extremely hard to investigate exactly what has happened and to keep the rest of us safe”.
Khan added: “I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant. Please report anything suspicious to the police. We all have a vital role to play as eyes and ears for our police and security services and in helping to ensure London is protected.
“Our police officers are doing an incredibly difficult job on our behalf and they have my full support.”
Numbers of armed officers in London will rise by 600 to 2,800 over the next two years, with the aim of preventing attacks like the Brussels airport bombing in June and the Bastille Day truck rampage in Nice last month, which killed a total of 116 people.
Operation Hercules, Hogan-Howe said, would see additional firearms officers deployed to visible roles in the capital on both foot and in vehicles.
Hogan-Howe said: “Anyone who’s been following events in Europe over the past few weeks will understand why we want to show our determination to protect the public. We are deadly serious about the protection that we are offering the people of London and we will never be complacent.
“That’s why I’m increasing the visibility and the number of armed officers on London’s streets, and demonstrating some of the range of tactics we already have to protect the public from all manner of threats.
“I want the public to know that we have substantial resources and a range of tactics that we can call on to protect them.
“The reality of having to deal with armed and deadly attackers is that you need firearms officers who will use force to stop those attackers in their aim. Our firearms officers are the ones who will run towards the danger. They are our heroes.”