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Mass stabbing in central London leaves woman dead and five injured

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Police says 19-year-old man arrested and mental health a significant factor in the attack although terrorism is also one line of inquiry

A woman has been killed and five people have been injured in a mass stabbing in the centre of London.

Scotland Yards counter-terrorism command, known as SO15, were investigating the incident in Russell Square on Wednesday night but police also said that mental health could be a significant factor.

Police said there would be an increased police presence on the streets of London from Thursday morning for reassurance and safety.

A woman in her 60s was treated at the scene but was pronounced dead a short time later. Another woman and four men suffered various injuries in the attack, police said in a statement early on Thursday morning.

A 19-year-old man was arrested minutes after police arrived on the scene which is in a busy area close to the British Musem and home to many hotels and restaurants popular with tourists.

The suspect, who was Tasered during the arrest, was being held in custody in hospital, police said.

As detail emerged, the decision was made to have the counter-terrorism command involved in the investigation.

Mark Rowley, an assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan police and Britains most senior counter terrorism officer, made a statement to the media outside Scotland Yard headquarters shortly after 3.30am on Thursday morning.

Helen Edwards (@hyperlinkhelen) August 3, 2016

#Police guarding cordon around #russellsquare #bedfordplace #southamptonrow Saw armed police & paramedics earlier pic.twitter.com/M4XLR2o14j

He said: Early indications suggest mental health is a significant factor in this case and that is one major line of inquiry.

But of course at this stage we should keep an open mind regarding motive and consequently terrorism as a motivation remains but one line of inquiry for us to explore.

At present the Mets homicide command are investigating the incident but at present are supported by our counterterrorism unit.

As a precautionary measure tomorrow, Londoners will wake up and in the morning they will notice an increased police presence on the streets, including armed officers.

Roeland Roovers (@r0eland) August 4, 2016

One woman dead, multiple people wounded in #London knife attack at #RussellSquare, unknown if terrorism at this time pic.twitter.com/jQLUMx2y5X

Police cordoned off the area and were also stopping people entering Bedford Place, just off Russell Square, where it is believed the suspect was arrested.

Two forensic team officers wearing protective suits were examining the scene.

A caller to BBC Radio London named Paul said he had been to the nearby Bloomsbury cinema with his girlfriend when he came across the scene.

We came around the corner and there were armed police everywhere a massive police presence and a corpse lying in the street covered in a blanket.

Helen Edwards (@hyperlinkhelen) August 4, 2016

Police cordon around #russellsquare now extended & forensic tent erected on Southampton row pic.twitter.com/0cU8Uor2E3

We went into the bar across the street and the officers came to interview us we didnt actually see anything but some people in the bar saw something.

Extra police have been deployed in the area to provide reassurance.

The first police statement said: Police were called at 22:33 hours on Wednesday 3 August to reports of a man seen in possession of a knife injuring people at Russell Square, WC1.

Officers attended the scene along with the London Ambulance Service. Up to six people were found injured at the location.

A female (no further details) was treated at the scene but was pronounced dead a short time later. We await an update on the condition of the other persons injured and details of any other injuries.

A man was arrested at 22:39 hours and a Taser was discharged by one of the arresting officers. Additional police units have been deployed to the area to provide reassurance.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Terrorism is one possibility being explored at this stage.

Scotland Yard had earlier on Wednesday announced an extra 600 officers armed officers were being deployed on patrol in London after the recent terror attacks in France and Germany.

susanna cappellaro (@SuzieCappellaro) August 4, 2016

Thank you so much @metpoliceuk for being so fast, caring and efficient tonight in #russellsquare . I am a resident and I really thank you.

The Russell Square area is frequented mainly by students and tourists. The University of London and the University College of London are very close by, as is this British Museum. There are numerous hotels in the area, including Hotel Russell and the Imperial, which overlook the square.

Russell Square itself is a large garden square with a fountain in the middle and a cafe, and is very busy during the day. Russell Square tube station is located just off the main square and it is a main thoroughfare for buses.

The garden area is usually locked at night and would have closed at about 8.30pm. It was not clear whether it was still open when the stabbings took place or whether they took place within the square itself or just outside.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/04/mass-stabbing-central-london-woman-dead-and-injured

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