Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland teen stabbed in Manchester knife attack 'on the mend'

Police do not believe there is anyone else involved in terrorist attack

19-year-old Chloe McGurk from Glengormley who was stabbed in a terrorist attack in Manchester is understood to be 'on the mend' following the incident.

Ms McGurk was on a shopping trip to the English city when a man went on a knife rampage in Arndale shopping centre, injuring five people.

It happened shortly after 11 o'clock on Friday.

A 41-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Speaking to the BBC, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "We do not know the motivation for this terrible attack. It appears random, is certainly brutal and of course extremely frightening for anyone who witnessed it.

"At this time we do not believe that there is anyone else involved in this attack but we will be constantly keeping this under review.

"We have specially trained officers supporting those injured from the attack.

"We'll have increased patrols, including armed patrols, in the city centre this weekend."

He appealed for anyone who was in the Arndale at the time to send any images or footage taken from the scene via the force's website.

A friend of Ms McGurk, who was with her on a 'girly weekend' in the city when the attack happened, said she's in disbelief following the incident.

She said she hopes they'll be able to come home soon and that all the good wishes are appreciated.

Ellen Da Conceicao said: "All we wanted to do was come over to Manchester for a girly weekend, but instead the first shopping centre we step into this happens," she wrote.

"We’re all so shook and can’t for the life of us understand how someone could be so low to do this to our Chloe and other victims.

"I can’t get that mans face and knife out of my head and probably won’t for a very long time. Chloe is on the mend and she thanks everyone for her support.

"We haven't left her side and we should hopefully be home within the next few days after interviewing etc for everyone asking. Thank you all for the support, we all appreciate it."

DUP councillor Alison Bennington, who represents the Glengormley area, told the Belfast Telegraph: “This is a dreadful thing to have happened.

“She’d just arrived there this morning to do some shopping - and then this happens. Dear help her.

“She just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a horrific incident. My heart goes out to her — and to the other people who have been injured.”

The suspect was detained on suspicion of terrorism, Greater Manchester Police said.

Police were called to the Arndale Centre at 11.15am on Friday.

Witnesses described a scene of terror as shoppers, some with injuries, sought refuge in stores.

Officers from Counter Terrorism Police North West were called in to investigate, and at around 3.15pm, Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said the suspect had been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of an act of terrorism.

He added that investigators did not believe anyone else to be involved in the attack.

Mr Jackson said the attacker was armed with a large knife as he entered the Exchange Court of the shopping centre where he “lunged” at shoppers.

He said the first to intervene were two unarmed police community support officers who had been nearby, and who tried to confront the attacker who then chased them with a knife as they called for assistance.

He added: “Other officers both armed and unarmed quickly responded and within five minutes he was challenged and detained by armed officers on Market Street outside the Arndale Centre.

“We do not know the motivation for this terrible attack. It appears random, is certainly brutal and of course extremely frightening for anyone who witnessed it.”

Mr Jackson said the incident was “bound to bring back memories of the awful events of 2017”.

He added: “Although the injuries are nasty, we are told that, thankfully, none are life-threatening.”

He said the force had increased patrols in the area, but added: “We do not believe there is a wider threat at this time and we are hoping to return the city to normality by tomorrow morning.”

Mr Jackson called on anyone who may have been present to send any images or footage they have taken to the GMP website.

Freddie Houlder, 22, from Market Drayton, was in the centre when he heard “a load of screams just outside” the shop he was in.

He said a woman then came into the shop and told others “a guy just ran past the shop and tried to stab me”.

Mr Houlder added: “Luckily she had quite a thick jacket – she thought originally it was a fake knife because of how easily it grazed off but police came in and said it was a real knife and she burst in to tears.”

He said he was evacuated several minutes later, at which point he saw “a bunch of curtains covering someone seriously injured or dead, I don’t know”.

“I definitely don’t think it was gang violence because this guy was going around trying to stab random people, I believe.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked by the incident and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected”.

Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing, crime and fire, said: “I want to praise Greater Manchester’s emergency services for their swift and professional action.

“Our thoughts are with the five people injured.

“The scene has been secured and all emergency services are engaged in ensuring public safety – the investigation is ongoing.”

The Arndale Centre is just a few hundred yards from the Manchester Arena and Victoria railway station – both of which have been the scene of recent terror attacks.

Twenty-two people were killed in May 2017 when Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb in the Manchester Arena following an Ariane Grande concert – the youngest victim was just eight years old.

Last New Year’s Eve, three people including a police officer were seriously injured after a 25-year-old man launched a knife attack on passers-by.

He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and will face trial in November.

In 1996, the Arndale Centre was damaged in a major bomb attack by the IRA in which a 1,500-kilograms device loaded on a lorry was detonated on Corporation Street.

More than 200 people were injured in the explosion, although there were no fatalities.

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