London’s mayor appealed for vigilance and calm Thursday after a stabbing spree in the heart of the city that left one woman dead and five injured.
Police arrested a 19-year-old suspect and said that early indications suggested that “mental health was a factor in this horrific attack.”
However, in the context of a string of recent attacks in Europe, authorities said they were keeping an open mind and that “terrorism remains one line of inquiry being explored.”
London police’s counter-terror chief Mark Rowley said there would be “an increased presence on the streets” of the capital on Thursday, including armed officers — an unusual sight in Britain.
“A Taser (electric stun gun) was discharged during the arrest of the suspect, a 19-year-old man.”
Police later said in a tweet that the suspect had left hospital, where he had been receiving treatment.
He is in custody at a south London police station, a statement said.
Police arrested the teenager after reports of a stabbing spree in Russell Square, a quiet area close to several popular tourist attractions including the British Museum.
Paramedics fought to save the life of a woman believed to be in her 60s but pronounced her dead at the scene. Two women and three men were also injured but no details have been released about their condition.
The suspect himself was taken to hospital after being immobilised with a Taser electroshock gun.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said police were seeking “to establish the full facts including motives” for the attack and urged the city’s residents to stay calm but alert.
“I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant… 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.”
Europe has been on edge for months following a string of recent militant attacks.