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Reading stabbing: Police declare terror attack after three killed in park



A mass stabbing that left three people dead in a Reading park was a terror attack, police have confirmed.

The Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) unit has taken over the investigation as a suspect remains in custody.

Chief Constable John Campbell, of Thames Valley Police, said: “I am deeply saddened by the events of last night.

“This was a truly tragic incident and the thoughts of Thames Valley Police are with all those who have been affected.

“Incidents of this nature are very rare, though I know that will be of little comfort to those involved and understand the concern that this incident will have caused amongst our local community.”

The attack was formally declared a terrorist incident by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, the senior national coordinator for counterterror policing.

The suspect, a 25-year-old man of Libyan origin, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

Police said cordons would remain in place as investigations continued in Forbury Gardens, where the attack happened, and at a block of flats where the suspect lived in nearby Whitley.

“I would also ask that the public avoid speculation,” Mr Campbell said.

“We would like to hear from anyone who has video footage. Out of respect for those deceased and injured, along with their loved ones, please do not circulate this footage on social media – this will be incredibly distressing.”

The knifeman struck at around 7pm on Saturday evening, as groups of friends and families enjoyed the evening sunshine.

A police cordon near the scene where three people have died and three more were seriously injured following stabbings in Forbury Gardens, Reading, on 21 June 2020 (Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency/Getty)

A personal trainer who fled the attack said the knifeman had shouted “unintelligible words” before stabbing victims in the neck.

“The park was pretty full, a lot of people sat around drinking with friends, when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them,” said Lawrence Wort, 20.

”He stabbed three of them, severely in the neck, and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running.

“When he realised that he couldn’t catch us, he tried to stab another group sat down, he got one person in the back of the neck and then when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out the park.”

Graphic footage from the scene showed the three victims lying injured metres apart on the grass, surrounded by members of the public as police carried out emergency first aid.

Officers could be heard calling for a defibrillator, as CPR was conducted on one victim.

An air ambulance and several other ambulances were called, as well as teams from London and a hazardous area response team.

The suspect, a young man of North African or Middle Eastern appearance who was wearing black, was chased and pinned to the floor by police officers.

He was searched for weapons before being taken into custody.

Heavily-armed Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers later searched a flat in Basingstoke Road, in the Reading suburb of Whitley.

Residents were evacuated from the block, which sits just under two miles from the scene of the stabbing.

A local woman, who did not want to be named, told The Independent the flat where the suspect lived was council-owned and used as temporary accommodation, including for people recently released from prison.

“First there were armed response cars, and then unmarked vans with armed police wearing balaclavas turned up,” she added.

At the beginning of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, the closure of large venues and transport hubs caused counter-terror police to assess that the risk of mass stabbings had reduced, because of a reduction in crowded places.

(PA)

But at the same time, there were concerns that the effects of online radicalisation could be more pronounced as people became more isolated and spent more time on the internet.

The head of the Prevent counter-extremism programme previously told The Independent referrals had fallen sharply during the pandemic, raising fears that potential threats were not being spotted by teachers, probation workers, NHS staff and other agencies forced to reduce contact with people.

Isis has incited its supporters to carry out low-technology terror attacks using knives and vehicles around the world.

The terrorist group released advice on picking “soft targets” containing crowds of people but low security.

The tactics have been used in several recent terror attacks in the UK, including at Fishmongers’ Hall in November and Streatham in January.

Anyone with information about the incident or video material is asked to contact police on 101.



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Social-distancing circles but no crowds at Trinity Bellwoods park


If you paint it, they will come.

Well, maybe not.

Trinity Bellwoods Park — which attracted a massive gathering that flouted COVID-crowding rules on May 23 — failed to become a socially-distanced Field of Dreams on Sunday.

While the city put down white circles to allow up to 1,500 people to gather and observe social distancing rules, the crowds just didn’t show up.

The sun was shining and the skies were clear but brisk winds and temperatures in the mid-teens weren’t enough to trigger people to head to the Queen St. E. park.

Lauren Gruchy, who was accompanied by her French bulldog Ruby, dropped by the park Sunday to check out the circles.

“Well, I heard what happened (with the crowding on May 23) and I had to come out and check this out,” said Gruchy.  “To be honest, it feels a bit odd like we are being watched all the time.

“It kind of takes the joy out of being here,” she added.

And Gruchy wasn’t wrong as loads of lime-green jacketed bylaw officers walked the perimeter of the park. Special constables and Toronto Police officers on bicycles also kept a close eye on those at Trinity Bellwoods.

There were so many police and bylaw officers at one point that each occupied circle could have had its own personal security officer.



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In the Absence: South Korea’s Sewol Ferry Disaster | Park Geun-hye


A disaster began to quietly unfold at 8:49am on April 16, 2014.

The Sewol ferry, bound for Jeju Island in South Korea, began to sink. On board were 476 passengers, including 325 students on a school trip. Mobile phone footage records students struggling to stay on their feet in their cabins, the atmosphere calm but uncertain.

Dashcam footage showed cars sliding across the car deck as the ship tipped.

A passenger had made an emergency call at 8:52am, and through radio communications the authorities were notified. The ferry continued to sink.

A single patrol boat arrived and the captain escaped the ship at 9:47am. No one had called for the passengers to evacuate.

Over the coming hours, the rescue operation never intensified – not when passengers wearing life jackets began to jump ship, not when the ferry tipped entirely on its side, and not when it sank so that only its prow remained above water.

More than 300 people, mostly school children, had lost their lives.

In the aftermath, a group of civilian divers came to assist the coastguard’s rescue efforts. For months they retrieved the bodies and belongings of victims. Public protests – and calls for justice from the victims’ families – would also help driving the removal of President Park Geun-hye in 2017.

Using phone and dashcam footage, recordings of radio communications, and the accounts of survivors, civilian rescuers, and families of the deceased, In the Absence follows the Sewol ferry disaster in meticulous detail, offering an unflinching look at one of South Korea’s great tragedies, and the layers of dysfunction and neglect that led to it.


FILMMAKER’S VIEW

By Seung-jun Yi

April 16, 2014. The day has become one of the most painful days in the modern history of Korea to most of the Korean people. They watched the sinking of MV Sewol ferry, live on TV, and 304 passengers and crew members including 250 high school students on their school trip were killed. It was painful and traumatic, not just because of the number of the victims, but because of the fact that they could have been saved.

Five years have already passed since the disaster, but I can still witness the pains of the victims’ families, civilian divers and many more people that had been affected by the tragedy.

After a long investigation, it has turned out that the tragedy was not just an unfortunate accident but was a systemic failure from the social-political frailty of Korean society.

Even though it was a clear failure of the rescue operation, no one has been punished except the captain of the coastguard boat.

History teaches us that tragedies repeat if we easily forget about them. The victims’ families ask us to “Remember ‪16 April”. It’s not only a call to support their demand for a proper investigation, but it is also from their wish not to witness such a tragedy again in any society.

Human beings are vulnerable to “time”. As time goes on, we forget many things. Time makes us dull. It is like a black hole that absorbs our thinking and feeling.

We need to be awakened about this world, the system and order which are controlling this world. I want people to remember the day, remember what happened on that day. And I hope people do not forget that if a system fails to operate correctly, it can result in terrible pain and trauma to innocent citizens in the end. The pain which might not be curable. This film is my plea for people to wake up and keep your eyes on the systems.

Source: Al Jazeera





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