UK reels from terror-linked stabbing in Reading

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READING: The English town of Reading held a minute's silence yesterday for the victims of a stabbing that killed three people including an American in the latest terror-linked attack.

Three people were hospitalised after a man wielding a 13cm knife went on the rampage in a park on Saturday, randomly stabbing people enjoying a sunny summer evening.

A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the suspect was a 25-year-old Libyan called Khairi Saadallah.

British media said Saadallah fled the civil war in Libya and had been released from prison earlier this month, after serving time for a series of non-terror offences.

He briefly came to the attention of the domestic intelligence agency MI5 last year and was said to have planned to travel abroad, reportedly to Syria.

But he was not deemed to be a substantial risk. His mental health is understood to be a factor for investigating officers.

The police said they were not hunting others.

"What we saw here on Saturday evening in Reading was the actions of one lone individual," Home Secretary Priti Patel said.

"The security services have records on thousands of people and rightly so," said Ms Patel, adding she was limited in what she could say because the investigation was live.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said one of the dead was US citizen Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, who had lived in Britain for 15 years. US Ambassador Woody Johnson sent condolences to families of the victims.

"To our great sorrow, this includes an American citizen," he said on Twitter.

The third victim has not yet been identified.

Shocked residents of Reading, about 65km west of London, held a minute's silence yesterday. The attack was reminiscent of some recent incidents in Britain that the authorities also called terrorism.

In February, the police shot dead a man, previously jailed for promoting violent Islamist material, who had stabbed two people on a busy street in south London.

Last November, another man who had been jailed for terrorism offences stabbed two people to death on London Bridge before he was shot dead by the police. - REUTERS, AFP