London stabbing: Witnesses describe horror of Russell Square knife attack

'I saw a girl lying on the floor with blood coming from her back.' Witnesses recount attack in Bloomsbury

Harry Cockburn
Thursday 04 August 2016 14:40
The knife attack in Russell Square was close to where one of the 7/7 bombs went off
The knife attack in Russell Square was close to where one of the 7/7 bombs went off

Witnesses have described the horror of a knife attack in Russell Square in central London in which one woman was killed and five people injured.

A 19-year-old suspect remains under police guard in hospital. Police said “mental health is a significant factor in the case”.

Witnesses said the woman, who was in her sixties, may have been part of a hen night.

Taxi driver Paul Hutchinson drove past the scene shortly after the attack. He told the Telegraph: “The road wasn’t shut but the pavement was taped-off by police. Lots of armed police, lots of cars and a body on the floor. You could see the boots sticking out from under the cloth they used to cover it.”

A witness who gave his name only as Michael, told MailOnline he had been yards away from the attack when it happened and said he was lucky to be alive.

He said: “Thank God I wasn't there - 30 seconds more and I may be dead.

“I heard a scream, and then we went to the park and I saw a girl lying on the floor with blood coming from her back. Another girl had blood on her arm.”

He added: “I just saw blood just next to her. She was lying on the floor with a friend hugging her.”

Witness Philippa Baglee told Sky News she had come outside for a cigarette and saw “someone laying down and people standing around, and a guy with a motorbike helmet balanced on his head just parading up and down”.

“Then the police and the ambulance came, and I went back in the hotel,” she said.

On Twitter, user Lauren Brittny wrote: “Sadly my brother and his mates witnessed the stabbing in Russell Square.”

She added: “My brother said the woman was surrounded with her friends. He suspected they were on a hen night.”

Footage taken by 22-year-old student Jeremy Cheng showed emergency services vehicles at the scene. According to the Mirror, Mr Cheng said: “There was a body lying on the pavement on the eastern edge of the square, and all the roads to the south and west of the square have been cordoned off.

“A woman with whom I spoke said that police told her that a gang of some sort was involved – and that they fled south or south west.

“But that is just speculation.”

Witness Paul O'Geibheannaigh told BBC Radio London he had just left the cinema with his girlfriend when he came across the scene.

He said: “We saw the body lying on the pavement which was quite disconcerting as it wasn't covered at that stage. Then we went for a drink and everyone was shocked in the bar. The police came in and interviewed people but at that stage we had no idea other people were injured, we just knew a woman had been attacked...I haven't seen a police presence in this area like that since 7/7, it brought that memory back.”

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, from the Metropolitan Police, said in a statement this morning: “This was a tragic incident resulting in the death of one woman and five others being injured.

“Early indications suggest that mental health was a factor in this horrific attack.

“However we are keeping an open mind regarding the motive and terrorism remains one line of inquiry being explored.”

Two other women and three men were injured in the attack. Police said three people injured in the attack have now been discharged from hospital. Two are still being treated for their injuries.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for Londoners to remain “calm and vigilant” following the attack and said his “heart goes out to the victims of the incident in Russell Square and their loved ones”.

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