Shaftesbury Avenue stabbing: Witnesses tell of horror after two police officers stabbed by knifeman in West End

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itnesses have described the horrific moment two police officers were stabbed in an “appalling” attack in the West End as they tackled a knifeman.

A young female police officer suffered a serious stab wound to her arm which Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said may be life-changing in the attack near Leicester Square around 6am on Friday.

A second male officer was stabbed three times in the neck and once in the chest, but was expected to make a full recovery.

The pair were attacked after they went to stop the suspect near the junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and Great Windmill Street.

The incident is not being treated as terror related. A man believed to be in his 20s was arrested at the scene.

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Hotel worker Arunas Ambrulevius, 34, told the Standard: “The police had got the knife out of his hand. It fell on the ground but then he grabbed it and went at them. One of them had an arm injury, the other looked a lot less serious.

“The police were fighting against the odds because he had a knife. It’s terrible what happened to the officers.”

A builder who had just arrived for work nearby said: “There were police everywhere, I thought there had been a terror incident.

“I saw a guy being detained and two police on the ground. There looked like a lot of blood and bad injuries.”

Two officers received stab wounds and are currently being treated in hospital.

/ Nick Edwards

A police cordon has been thrown up around the area as detectives comb for clues.

A tube station worker at Piccadilly Circus said: “There’s a lot of crime and drug taking around here especially in the early hours.

“It’s a den of thieves. I saw two officers on the ground and police everywhere. One of them said colleagues had been attacked. It looked bad.”

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Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy called the stabbing “a terrible event”.

He said the attack in the Leicester Square area is not thought to be linked to terrorism, or the death of the Queen.

Mr Cundy said: “It is a terrible event. We do not believe it to be terror-related, and equally we do not believe it at this time to be related to the events that have been occurring this week.”

A police spokesperson earlier said: “Taser was deployed and a male was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and assaulting an emergency worker. He was taken to a hospital for treatment where he remains at this time.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he had spoken with Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley about the “appalling” attack, and that the condition of the officers was thankfully not life-threatening.

He said: “These two officers are in our thoughts and prayers. Thankfully it’s not life-threatening, but it is a reminder of the risks that police officers across our country take every day when they put on their uniform. The good news is that a man has been arrested.”

In a statement, he added: “These brave officers were doing their duty and assisting the public at this momentous time for our country.

“My thoughts and prayers are with them, their loved ones and police colleagues following this disgraceful attack.

“Our police officers run towards danger to protect others and keep us safe and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

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Ken Marsh, chairman of the Police Federation, said: “This highlights the bravery of our officers who run towards danger.

“With all the policing challenges over this period with the events surrounding the Queen, our officers are out there without fear or favour. These were unarmed officers challenging a man with a knife.”

Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London & Westminster which covers Soho, said she was “appalled” to learn of the “senseless attack”.

“Every day police officers across the country put themselves forward to keep us safe and secure. They run towards danger as we flee from it,” she said. “

“We owe them all our thanks for their duty and their bravery. An attack on an officer is an attack on all of us.”

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