Saturday night turned into a horror movie at London’s Leytonstone underground station as an attacker slashed a person’s throat while shouting “this is for Syria.” Police, who had difficulty detaining the man with only a Taser, are now treating the incident as a terror act.
The attack took place in the ticket hall at Leytonstone station. Witnesses described a horrific scene, with a pool of blood on the floor and the attacker shouting, while threatening to stab others.
The victim, who reportedly had his throat cut, was transported to a hospital and remains in a serious condition with multiple stab wounds, according to paramedics.
“We are treating this as a terrorist incident,” the head of the London police’s Counter Terrorism Command, Richard Walton, said in a statement.
A total of three people were injured in the incident – one seriously and two with only minor wounds, according to police.
London police declined to comment on the reports that the attacker was shouting comments about Syria.
Police used a Taser on the suspect to apprehend him, as he repeatedly resisted arrest. A video emerged showing the attacker scuffling with an officer.
Another man can be heard chastising the already detained suspect in a separate video, repeatedly telling the attacker “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv.”
A witness provided express.co.uk with a detailed account of the attack, claiming that Syria was mentioned in the aftermath of the stabbing.
“So as I was going to Leytonstone station, was dressed to go to Christmas dinner with people from work … I just saw a lot of people running but I ignored it and kept walking to get my train, but suddenly what I saw I couldn’t believe my eyes and what I saw was one guy with a knife and a dead guy on the floor.”
“I was so scared I ran for my life. After a good 10-15 police came and got the guy and arrested him. And as he was coming out this is what he said ‘This is what happens when you f*** with mother Syria all of your blood will be spilled,’” the witness claimed.
The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that officers were called to the scene at 7:06 pm local time on Saturday after reports of a stabbing. “Met officers attended the scene. A man was arrested at 19:14hrs and taken to an east London police station where he remains in custody,” a Met spokesperson said. “A Taser was discharged by one of the Met officers.”
The attack comes just days after a majority of MPs in the UK parliament backed Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to launch air strikes on Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL) targets in Syria. Before early on Wednesday, RAF jets had only been taking part in the US-led coalition campaign in Iraq, as the PM’s motion on bombing Syria was defeated in August 2013. The previous vote, however, would have authorized attacking Syrian Army Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.
There was no immediate reaction to the stabbing attack from either Cameron or foreign secretary Philip Hammond, both of whom said that the UK would be “safer” after the vote in favor of bombing Syria.
On the other hand, some of the staunchest opponents of the new overseas bombing campaign, including the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, were quick to react to the news. Corbyn called the incident “absolutely shocking,” adding that his thoughts were “with the [stabbing] victim and his family.”
Leytonstone station will remain closed while police are investigating the incident and there will be no service between Liverpool station and Woodford/Newbury Park for the rest of Sunday.