UK

Russell Square stabbings shock London

Woman lays flowers at scene of stabbing in Russell Square as police stand guard Image copyright Getty Images

Walking around the park at Russell Square it was just another weekday morning.

A few dog walkers strolled around while commuters stopped to buy their first coffee of the day.

But just a few metres away along Southampton Row it was a very different story.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a US citizen in her 60s was killed and five other people were injured in a knife attack.

Police tape cordoned off a wide section of road while a white and yellow forensics tent marked the point where the fatal stabbing took place.

As the tent blew in the strong morning breeze you could still see the bloodstained pavement underneath before police officers on guard ran to cover it up.

Rows of journalists stood behind cameras focused on the scene while holidaymakers staying in the nearby hotels came past asking what had happened.

Some had seen it for themselves.

Emma and Mark Pigdon, visiting the capital from County Durham, were on their way back from the theatre when they saw the incident unfolding.

Emma said: "We just saw a woman lying on the street. She looked like she had a pattern on her clothes but it turned out to be blood.

"She was a really small lady, really slight, which made me think she was a teenager. We were shocked when we later heard she was in her 60s."

The couple described seeing another injured man sat nearby with his top off and something like a bandage wrapped around his chest while another woman sat crying next to the injured lady's body.

Armed police

Another couple described seeing a group of girls running to the scene.

"They were running toward the park railings and screaming. It was all so fast that we didn't really know what we were seeing."

Philippa Bagley also saw the aftermath of the attack.

She was staying at the nearby Hotel President and was outside having a cigarette when she saw what she thought was the result of a road accident.

Image caption Ms Bagley thought she had witnessed a road accident

"It just looked like someone had collapsed or come off their bike. I thought it was maybe a motorcycle accident. It didn't look frantic at all but just lots of people standing around."

The attack came on the day the Metropolitan Police announced more armed police are to be seen on patrol to reassure the public and deter potential attackers in response to terrorist incidents in continental Europe.

The force had said it was considering terrorism as "one line of inquiry" in the Russell Square incident but now say their investigation suggested the attack was "triggered by mental health issues".

Weary Londoners

Morning commuters described their shock that Russell Square - an area hit by the London 7/7 bombings - had again become a target.

Shyam Sanghani who runs Imperial News and Gifts right opposite the attack scene said: 'You don't expect it to happen. It's so sad.

Image caption Shyam Sanghani described the events as "scary"

"We had more armed police being announced yesterday and then this today - it's scary and it makes you think. We've been here a long time and to have two incidents is awful. This is our home."

Bill Cole, who works nearby said: 'I hadn't heard about it until my bus got diverted this morning.

"It's a shock. I think Londoners were already a bit wary about something happening and things like this add to that worry."

As the forensic tent was cleared away and the pavement scrubbed clean officers moved in to gather up the remnants of the emergency operation.

Image caption Twelve hours later, and the street was starting to get back to normal

Discarded first aid bags left scattered on the roadside were collected and the blue and white cordon tape came down.

A few TV cameras remain but the street is beginning to look like normal again, bustling with tourists and traffic, the incident now marked only by a growing number of floral tributes left by passers-by.

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