Russell Square attack: Woman killed in London was American citizen

'Victims were selected at random', investigators say

Harry Cockburn
Thursday 04 August 2016 15:02
Russell Square attack: Woman killed in London was American citizen

A woman in her 60s who was killed in a knife attack in Russell Square was an American citizen, police have revealed.

The incident, which happened on Wednesday night in central London, is not believed to have been terror-related and investigators said mental illness may have been “a significant factor” in the attack.

Police said the attacker, who is a Norwegian national of Somali origin, appeared to target victims randomly, and that those injured are Australian, American, Israeli and British.

A witness who rushed to help the woman who died, told the MailOnline she used towels she had bought earlier in the day to stem the flow of blood.

She said: “I was just trying to console her – I was trying to help her. The victim said something about: 'He's still here, he's still here' - after that she was not lucid. That's when I saw someone. He was meandering about. He was very disturbed.”

After emergency services arrived, they treated the woman at the scene, but she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said: “While the investigation is not yet complete all of the work we have done so far, increasingly points to this tragic incident as having been triggered by mental health issues.

“Indeed at this time we believe it was a spontaneous attack and the victims were selected at random.”

A man who gave his name as Fernando, told MailOnline the man was slashing at people with the knife in silence.

He said a Spanish family of four helped the woman as he called 999.

“She was being cradled in the lap of a Spanish tourist who was trying to keep her alive. I didn't hear the old woman speak – she had been stabbed in the back,” he said.