A man has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after a knife attack in Manchester’s Arndale Centre left four people injured.
Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Russ Jackson has confirmed the suspect, a 41-year-old man from the Greater Manchester area, is being held on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of an act of terrorism.
The man has been held under the Mental Health Act, police confirmed on Friday evening.
Police clarified that four people had been stabbed, shortly after the North Western Ambulance Service stated that five people had been attacked. However, several hours later it emerged that a fifth victim had present at the hospital with what has been described as a “superficial” wound.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “A 19-year-old woman was taken to hospital with stab wounds. Another woman was also taken to hospital with stab injuries. Both their conditions are described as stable.
“A man in his 50s has also been taken to hospital with stab wounds.
“A fourth victim – a woman in her 40s – who was not stabbed – has been assessed and did not need to go to hospital following assessment by paramedics.”
In a statement released several hours after in the incident Jackson said none of the victim’s had suffered life-threatening injuries, describing how a man carrying a “large knife” had been seen “lunging” at bystanders.
He said that police did not yet know of a motive behind the attack, which he described as “brutal”, however explained that nobody else is currently believed to have been involved in the incident.
Freddie Houlder, 22, from Market Drayton, was in the Arndale Centre when he heard “a load of screams just outside” the shop he was in.
He said a woman then came into the shop and told others “a guy just ran past the shop and tried to stab me”.
Houlder added: “Luckily she had quite a thick jacket – she thought originally it was a fake knife because of how easily it grazed off but police came in and said it was a real knife and she burst into tears.”
He said he was evacuated several minutes later at which point he saw “a bunch of curtains covering someone seriously injured or dead, I don’t know”.
“I definitely don’t think it was gang violence because this guy was going around trying to stab random people, I believe.”
A GMP statement said: “Specialist officers are continuing to respond to an incident at the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester city centre.
“We can confirm that five [later corrected to four] people have been stabbed and taken to hospital.
“In these early stages we are keeping an open mind about the motivation of this terrible incident and the circumstances as we know them.”
North West Ambulance Service said it had treated four people after being called at 11.17am to reports of a stabbing incident.
Social media posts showed a large number of officers at the scene and a suspect being Tasered.
Manchester saw Britain’s most deadly militant attack in recent years when a suicide bomber killed 22 people in May 2017 at the end of a pop concert by Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena, not far from the Arndale Centre.
Boris Johnson took to Twitter in the wake of the incident, writing: “Shocked by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected.
“Thank you to our excellent emergency services who responded and who are now investigating what happened.”
Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing, crime and fire, praised the “swift and professional action” of the emergency services.
She wrote: “Our thoughts are with the five people injured.
“The scene has been secured and all emergency services are engaged in ensuring public safety – the investigation is ongoing.”
The shopping centre remains closed, with a police cordon outside the Shudehill entrance to the building.
Police have set up a rendezvous point in nearby Piccadilly Gardens, and have advised the public not to be alarmed by the huge emergency service presence in the area.