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Man held by police over Belfast knife attacks on women

Suspect faces questions over 80-minute rampage in city centre

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(PA)

(PA)

(PA)

Police have arrested a man after a series of random stabbings and assaults targeting young women in Belfast.

Four women aged between 19 and 22 sustained wounds to the neck, arm and back of their legs, while two others were punched in the head and neck in separate incidents on Monday night.

The attacks, by a man on a bicycle, took place over the course of 80 minutes.

Police subsequently increased patrols in the city and warned people to stay vigilant.

On Thursday night, the PSNI said a man had been arrested in Belfast earlier in the evening.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Detectives investigating a series of incidents during which a number of women were assaulted and stabbed in south Belfast on Monday night have arrested a 38-year-old man.

“He has been taken to Musgrave Station for questioning.

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New images of a man police wanted to speak had been released just hours earlier.

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CCTV Images released by the police.

CCTV Images released by the police.

CCTV Images released by the police.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said the pictures were captured in Belfast city centre shortly before the first attack on Castle Place at around 7.42pm on Monday, in which a woman suffered a stab wound.

The second stabbing occurred at 7.51pm on the Ormeau Avenue, between the Linenhall Street and Adelaide Street Junctions. The third knife attack happened on Donegall Square West.

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Graphic

Graphic

Graphic

This was followed by a fourth attack in which a woman was punched in the back of the head on the Dublin Road between 8.56pm and 9.01pm.

Another woman was stabbed while walking along University Road at 9.01pm, while the sixth attack saw a woman punched in the neck on the upper Lisburn Road, near Dunluce Avenue, at around 9.03pm.

Speaking before the arrest, Mr Walls said: “We believe that each of these attacks was carried out by a male on a bicycle.

“These were frightening and, we believe, completely random attacks. Thankfully, incidents like this are extremely rare.”

He also urged anyone with information to come forward.

“Detectives are carrying out a significant investigation, so I am appealing to any drivers who were in the city centre on Monday who have yet to review any dashcam footage, and similarly for any business owners in the relevant areas, to review their CCTV and to contact us if they have any information that could help,” the senior policeman explained.

The man was described as wearing dark clothing, possibly a hooded top, and cycling a mountain bike which may have had a light-coloured frame and reflectors on the spokes.

Police say the man may have been wearing a black mask and carrying a backpack. They do not believe the motive was robbery.

South Belfast SDLP MP Claire Hanna condemned the knife attacks, saying she was “horrified” by the news.

“Nobody should feel unsafe on the streets of Belfast and the local community are shocked and upset at this attack,” she said on Tuesday.


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