Birmingham, United Kingdom:
One man was killed and two people were seriously injured in an “accidental” stab attack in Britain’s second city, Birmingham, which lasted several hours, police said on Sunday.
Detectives said they chased a suspect after being called to reports of knife wounds in four different locations downtown between 12:30 p.m. (2330 GMT Saturday) and 2:30 p.m.
But they excluded hate crimes, gang violence and terrorism.
“It seems random about the people who were attacked,” West Midlands Police chief superintendent Steve Graham said, adding that it was treated as murder.
Britain was on high alert after two mass stabs in London last year in which both perpetrators – convicted Islamic extremists who were prematurely released from prison – were shot dead by armed officers.
In June a man was charged with murder after three people were killed in a park in Reading, west of London, in an attack investigated by anti-terrorism police.
Six people, including a police officer, were injured at a hotel in the Scottish city of Glasgow that housed asylum seekers. Armed police shot dead the alleged attacker.
The latest incident comes amid concerns over the level of knife crime in the UK, particularly in the capital, London.
The number of stab wounds in England and Wales rose six percent by the end of March, according to the Office of National Statistics.
One of the most ethnically diverse cities in Britain, with a population of over a million, Birmingham has recently had an explosive history of gang violence.
In January 2003, a gang opened fire on a rival group with an illegal semi-automatic machine gun. Two teenage girls nearby were killed in the hail of bullets.
– ‘Groups over groups’ –
No details of the victims’ identities were released, other than that the two seriously injured people were a man and a woman.
Five other people were hospitalized with minor injuries when police declared a “serious incident” and said the incidents were linked.
Eyewitnesses previously reported violence to AFP at one of four locations in and around the Arcadian Center, a popular venue with restaurants, nightclubs and bars.
Cara Curran, a nightclub promoter who worked at the Arcadian Center Saturday night, said she saw “groups upon groups” of people fighting in and around the venue and heard the use of “racial slurs”.
“I had built up a lot of tension during the night that was not quite like what I saw before,” she said.
“I went with my boyfriend. I heard a commotion and saw several police officers approaching us. I went where I saw them coming and everything just unfolded in front of me.
“It was quite a street fight. It didn’t really look like fighting. It was just several people on top of each other, not one on one.”
She added, “There was every ethnicity there, there was Asian, black, white. It wasn’t just that ethnicity versus that ethnicity, it was a group of ethnic groups with another group, and they just got it that way made.”
– Social exclusion –
Shabana Mahmood, who represents the area in the UK Parliament for the main opposition Labor Party, described the events as “deeply worrying”.
Yvonne Mosquito, also from Labor, said the violence was “traumatic” for everyone involved.
Mosquito, a former mayor of the city, praised the police for tackling so-called “black on black” violence in Birmingham in the early 2000s.
But she said there continues to be a real problem with social exclusion among younger people, including the county lines drug trafficking.
The Arcadian center where the Birmingham Gay Village and the Chinese Quarter meet is lively and popular, although there has been “a bit of trouble” beforehand, she told AFP.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)