Libyan held over Reading attack known to British security services
Khairi Saadallah (25) left three dead and number of others injured in mass stabbing
Forensic officers work near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre, the scene of a multiple stabbing attack that took place on Saturday evening. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Police are treating as a terrorist incident a mass stabbing in Reading on Saturday that left three people dead and a number of others injured. A 25-year-old man arrested within minutes of the attack has been identified as Khairi Saadallah, who is originally from Libya and who is reported to have been known to British security services.
Assistant commissioner Neil Basu, Britain’s chief counterterrorism police officer, said police were not looking for any other suspects in connection with the attack, which took place in a park shortly before 7pm on Saturday.
“From our inquiries undertaken so far, officers have found nothing to suggest that there was anyone else involved in this attack and presently we’re not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident,” he said.
“Although the motivation for this horrific act is far from certain, counterterrorism policing have taken responsibility for leading the investigation.”
Mr Basu said the attack was not associated in any way with a Black Lives Matter protest which took place peacefully in the same park earlier in the day.
The first victim of the attack to be named was James Furlong, a history teacher at the Holt School in Wokingham. Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce, the co-headteachers of the school, described him as “very kind and a gentleman” and praised his dedication to the students.
“He had a real sense of duty and cared for each and everyone of our students. He truly inspired everyone he taught through his passion for his subject and his dedication,” they said.
Eyewitnesses said the attacker targeted a group of people who were sitting in a circle on the grass in the park, stabbing one after the other with a large knife.
Deliveroo driver Amir Hadyoon told reporters he saw the suspect being arrested near Forbury Gardens, the park where the attack took place.
“When he got arrested his hand was full of blood, I could see the blood on his hand. He wasn’t resisting or anything, even though there were like four or five police officers on top of him. He had a very trim beard, not much on his cheeks, he was a young guy. He had like a black T-shirt or something on, he was on the ground I couldn’t really see. To me it looked very weird because he didn’t say a word. He didn’t care, he was just staring... he was just completely silent. He wasn’t even blinking, he looked really weird,” Mr Hadyoon said.
‘Appalled and sickened’
Boris Johnson was updated on the attack on Sunday at a meeting with security officials, police officers and senior ministers. He said he was “appalled and sickened” by the attack and praised the bravery of police officers in tackling the suspect.
“We now have someone in custody. The police must get on with their job, get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and so it would be difficult really to comment in detail. Except to say this: 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 and we will not hesitate to take action where necessary,” he said.