Police said on Wednesday they were confident that a man arrested after stabbing three people in a suspected terror attack at a Manchester station acted alone. He has been detained under the Mental Health Act after assessment by doctors.
The 25-year-old was arrested on New Year’s Eve after a couple in their 50s were injured in what police called a “frenzied attack” at Victoria station in the city centre.
The injured man is expected to leave hospital on Thursday while the woman will remain there for some time with serious but not life-threatening injuries. A British Transport Police officer stabbed in his shoulder when confronting the man is now recovering at home.
The unnamed man, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, can be held for up to six months in a secure medical facility under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act. Police will attempt to discover whether anyone encouraged the suspect to launch the attack, possibly online.
“The investigation has moved at a very fast pace and detectives are increasingly confident that the man acted alone in the final stages of the attack. The investigation will continue and will examine if anybody may have encouraged or assisted the man to commit the attack,” Greater Manchester Police said.
Sir Peter Fahy, former chief constable of Greater Manchester, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that police had to work closely with the NHS to monitor those with mental health problems.
“What we know is that people who perhaps have an existing problem in their lives . . . are particularly vulnerable to be targeted, to be radicalised.”
The man’s family are believed to be from Somalia and have lived in Manchester for some years. Police ended a search of their house in Cheetham Hill, north of the city centre, on Wednesday afternoon.
The family released a statement through their solicitor expressing sorrow over the incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were seriously injured, their families and friends,” the statement read.
Witnesses said the suspect shouted “Allah” and “Long live the caliphate” as he wielded two knives on a tram platform just before 9pm on Monday. The UK remains on high alert for terrorist incidents after several attacks in the past two years.
Victoria station is next to Manchester Arena, where in May 2017 a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 139 — more than half of them children — at the end of a concert by Ariana Grande, the pop star. The suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, had rented a flat in Cheetham Hill while he researched how to make a bomb.