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London knife attack: Mental health is a ’major factor’
Published on 4-08-2016 - at 03:06' by Al Jazeera

UK police arrest 19-year-old man after death of one woman and injuries to five others in attack in Russell Square area.

Mental health issues were "a significant factor" in a London knife attack that killed one woman and injured five others on Wednesday, with "possible terrorism links" also being investigated, according to British police.

A 19-year-old man was arrested in Russell Square, in the city centre, which was cordoned off after the attack as police swarmed the area.

"Early indications suggest that mental health is a significant factor in this case and that is one major line of inquiry," Mark Rowley, a senior police officer, said in a statement on Thursday.

"But of course at this stage we should keep an open mind regarding motive and consequently terrorism as a motivation remains but one line of inquiry for us to explore."

Russell Square is a busy tourist area with a string of high end hotels and is also close to the British Museum and the University of London.

A woman believed to be in her 60s was treated by paramedics at the scene but pronounced dead.

Two women and three men were also injured during the attack.

"Two people who were injured in the Russell Square incident remain in hospital. Three others have been discharged," the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter.

The arrested man is currently in police custody in hospital.

Police were called to Russell Square at 10:33pm local time (21:33 GMT) on Wednesday following reports a man armed with a knife was attacking people.

The man was arrested six minutes later, with one of the officers firing a Taser electroshock gun.

Mayor’s assurance

In a statement on Thursday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "Safety of Londoners is my number one priority.

"I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant. Please report anything suspicious to the police."

"We all have a vital role to play as eyes and ears for our police and security services and in helping to ensure London is protected."

The threat level in Britain remains at "severe", its second highest level, meaning a strike is "highly likely".

London police had already promised to deploy more armed offices after a spate of deadly attacks in other European countries.

Police chiefs and security bosses have repeatedly warned that fighters supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL also known as ISIS) group want to carry out attacks against Britain.

London police said on Wednesday they would deploy an additional 600 armed officers across the capital to protect against the threat of attacks.

Rowley has previously warned that ISIL was seeking to radicalise vulnerable people with mental health issues to carry out attacks.

He said that, in some operations, police commanders have taken advice from specialist psychologists.

London was hit by coordinated attacks on July 7, 2005, when four suicide bombers targeted three underground trains and one bus, killing 52 people.

One of the bombs was detonated on an underground train traveling between Kings Cross and Russell Square.

Since then, dozens of plots have been foiled and there have been smaller-scale attacks, such as the killing of an off-duty soldier on a street in south London by two people in May 2013.

"Londoners will wake up and in the morning they will notice an increased police presence on the streets, including armed officers," Rowley said.

"This is there to provide reassurance and safety. We ask the public to remain calm, vigilant and alert," he said.

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One woman was killed and five others injured by a man who went on the rampage with a knife in central London

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