One woman has been killed and five people injured in a knife attack in London.
The woman, who has not been identified but is believed to have been in her 60s, died and two women and three men received “various injuries” in the attack in Russell Square, yesterday.
Police said they are keeping an open mind over the motive behind the attack, understood to have taken place near the Imperial Hotel, and said terrorism was “one line of inquiry that we should explore”.
A 19-year-old man is currently under guard in hospital after being arrested shortly after 10.39pm.
The killing is currently being investigated by the Met’s homicide team with the support of the force’s Counter Terrorism Command.
However Scotland Yard said early indications suggested “mental health is a significant factor in this case”.
The suspect, whose identity has not been released, was arrested after officers fired a Taser.
As a result of the attack armed police and other officers will be deployed on the streets of London on Thursday as a “precautionary measure” to provide reassurance, the Met said as it urged the public to remain “calm, vigilant and alert”.
Speaking outside Scotland Yard in the early hours of Thursday morning, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said it had been a “tragic incident”.
He said: “Early indications suggest that mental health is a significant factor in this case and that is one major line of inquiry.
“But of course at this stage we should keep an open mind regarding motive and, consequently, terrorism as a motivation remains one line of enquiry for us to explore.”
Police were called to Russell Square, a popular tourist area near the British Museum in Bloomsbury, just after 10.30pm to reports of a man armed with a knife assaulting people.
“Armed officers arrived at the scene within five minutes, they discharged the Taser whilst confronting and arresting the suspect,” Mr Rowley said.
“Six people have been injured, including the one woman who sadly died at the scene, and the others have received various injuries.”
The London Ambulance Service (LAS) said it sent four ambulance crews, a responder in a car, an advanced paramedic and two officers to the scene.
A medical team of a doctor and paramedic from London’s Air Ambulance also attended in a car.
Paramedics gave the woman “extensive treatment” at the scene but she could not be saved.
The five injured people were all taken to hospital for treatment, the LAS said. Three of the five people taken to hospital were discharged this morning.
Bystander Abdulrahman Muammar wrote on Twitter: “#London Russell Square locked down & surrounded with police officers. Many police cars & ambulances.”
Helen Edwards tweeted: “#Police guarding cordon around #russellsquare #bedfordplace #southamptonrow Saw armed police & paramedics earlier. I saw armed police guarding the cordon around Russell Square plus ambulance at other end of Bedford place.”
The attack came on the day that Scotland Yard announced it was to put more armed officers on public patrol as part of anti-terrorism plans.
Scotland Yard appealed for witnesses to last night’s incident with information to call police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.