An American woman in her 60s was knifed to death and five others injured during a bloodbath attack carried out by a Norwegian-Somali man in central London last night.
Witnesses described victims “screaming and covered in blood” following the rampage in which the woman was brutally knifed by a man around 10.30pm.
Police sources confirmed the attacker hailed from Norway and is of Somali descent – and added that he has shown no signs of radicalisation.
Other terrified onlookers described the crazed knifeman chasing pedestrians and “lunging for anyone he could see” as police confirmed mental health was a likely factor.
A 19-year-old man was arrested at the scene after being tasered by police in Russell Square as officers yelled: “Put it down.”
It comes as dramatic footage emerges of the suspect being arrested by police last night.
Witnesses reported the dying woman’s final words were: “He’s still here, he’s still here.”
Those injured were British, Australian, Israeli and another American.
London mayor Sadiq Khan urged people to remain “calm and vigilant”.
The horrific incident happened just yards from where one of the 7/7 terror attack bombs detonated in 2005.
One witness described a “chubby” white man in a t-shirt and shorts acting suspiciously.
Fernando, 40, a paralegal from Brazil, said: “I was cycling by and people screamed at me to stop. It was a Spanish family who approached me.
“It was a mother and father and two sisters. Then I saw a white lady, in her sixties, slumped against the railings.
“She had her head in a Spanish woman’s lap, the lady, who was trying to keep her alive by talking to her. They were not related, I think the Spanish family were just passing by.
“She had been stabbed in the back. She was bleeding. There was an English man who was white, I’d say around 45. He had been stabbed in the side.
“Then there was another lady. I didn’t know her nationality but I think she was white. She was in her twenties. She had been stabbed in her arm.
“The old lady had been stabbed in the back.
“The lady from the Spanish family told me that the guy had passed by, running, stabbing people. They said he had been wearing black shorts and a white t-shirt and was chubby.
“They said they thought he was white but he was covering his face like this [with arm] I think as he was stabbing people like this.”
Police confirmed terrorism was “one line of inquiry that we should explore”.
A knife used in the attack was pictured lying on the ground next to the murder scene – apparently tossed to the floor by the killer.
Three men and two woman were also injured – two of whom remain in hospital following the horrific mass stabbing near the capital’s Imperial Hotel.
One witness said: “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.
“They all spoke Spanish so I guess they were a group. I only saw the victim and the girl with the arm stabbed from that group.
“I just saw blood just next to her. She was lying on the floor with a friend hugging her.”
What we know so far about the Russell Square stabbings:
- A 19-year-old Norwegian man of Somali descent attacked six people with a knife in central London’s Russell Square at around 10.30pm last night
- Detectives could see no evidence that he had been radicalised
- An American woman in her 60s was killed and another five injured. Two remain in hospital.
- The five injured hail from Britain, Australia, Israel and the USA.
- The attacker has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is being held at a South London police station.
- Police confirmed they were not ruling out the incident being terror-related and said they believed mental health was a key factor.
Images emerged this morning of police forensic teams removing the body of the victim, while blood was clearly visible on the forensics tent.
The suspect is in custody at a South London police station after being arrested on suspicion of murder.
Midlanders Fay and Ken Clegg were walking back from Shaftesbury Theatre at the time of the attack.
They told The Sun: “We saw what we thought were blue flashing lights. The bar was absolutely packed but we didn’t know what was happening just outside.
“It’s shocking to think it happened so close. We must have just missed it.”
Emma Pigdon, 40, had been to the theatre with her husband Mark, also 40. The couple, visiting from Durham, had been celebrating their birthday.
Teaching assistant Emma said: “We were on our way back from the theatre when we saw a woman being worked on by the emergency services.
“I couldn’t tell if she was wearing a patterned dress or if it was blood. She looked so tiny I thought she was a teenager.
“We went to get a coffee and when we came back she was covered by a sheet.
“There was also a guy leaning against railings with his top off. He had a bandage around his lower chest.”
Rehana Azam, 42, of Darlington, was staying at the Imperial Hotel when the incident happened.
She said: “I looked out my window and thought somebody had collapsed and saw a paramedic performing CPR on the person on the ground.
“More and more emergency vehicles, including police cars and ambulances, arrived and I saw a number of people being treated.
“But then it became clear the person being treated for CPR had died as they put a blanket over them.
“I saw another person – who I think was a male – being taken into an ambulance on a stretcher. It was awful.
“A police officer and a paramedic were comforting someone who was very distressed, it could have been a family member of the victim. They were very upset.”
He was just lunging at people randomly and stabbing them. He was just going for anyone he could see.
Another witness told the Evening Standard: “The police came to the hotel and a guest was telling them what he saw.
“He said there was a madman running around with a knife just lunging at people randomly and stabbing them. He was just going for anyone he could see.
“I ran out to look and saw all the paramedics around one woman who was badly injured, trying to help her.”
A guest at the hotel described seeing a man “parading” up and down the pavement in a biker helmet, while another said they witnessed a second man speeding off on a motorcycle.
Met Police Chief Sir Bernard Horgan-Howe hailed his officers for preventing more bloodshed last night.
He said: “I am proud that last night our specialist firearms officers were on the scene in six minutes and, using only a Taser, detained the subject.
“That demonstrates our commitment to use force in a professional and proportionate way.
“Their swift response undoubtedly helped to prevent more people from getting injured.”
Last night, anti-terror chief Mark Rowley, a Met Police Assistant Commissioner, said “mental health was a significant factor” in the attack but that “terrorism was still a line of inquiry”.