Dundalk attacks: Gardai confirm terror 'is a line of inquiry' but stress that motive remains unclear
- Man dies and two others injured after series of attacks in Dundalk
- Gardai believe at this stage attacks were random
- Dead man (24) is Japanese, two injured men are Irish
- One man (18) arrested, originally from Egypt
- Gardai praised for 'heroic' actions
GARDAI investigating a string of attacks in Louth this morning have said that terrorism "is a line of inquiry" - but have stressed that the attacker's motive remains unknown.
An 18-year-old Egyptian man is being questioned on suspicion of murder following the incidents in Dundalk which left a young Japanese man dead, and two young Irishmen injured.
Among the lines being investigated is that the young man had recently been refused asylum in the UK - but is in unclear how he may have subsequently entered Ireland or travelled to Dundalk.
At a press conference this afternoon, Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan officially confirmed that terrorism is one line of inquiry into three separate attacks which occurred within less than 60 minutes around 9am today.
“A terror attack is a line of inquiry, it’s certainly a line that we would look at,” he said.
“We will endeavour to establish the suspects background, who they are, where they’ve come from and why are they here.
“We’re very interested to know why was he in Dundalk, why would he come here, what’s the reason, what’s the connection,” he added.
Chief Supt Mangan said that gardai will be liaising with Egyptian authorities as part of this investigation.
He further stressed, however, that the motive for the attack on "an innocent bystander going about their work" was unclear. He added that the attack "certainly would appear to be random and unprovoked" and it appeared that the Egyptian man had acted alone.
The victim, who was aged 24 and from Japan, was attacked on Avenue Road in the town and stabbed in the back. He died at the scene.
Two other Irish men were subsequently attacked at two other locations in the town, the Inner Relief Road and Seatown.
Their injuries are not life-threatening.
The first incident happened on Avenue Road at around 9am, when the Japanese man was attacked from behind and stabbed in the back with a knife. The 24-year-old died at the scene.
Gardai were at the scene within seven minutes, Chief Supt Mangan said, after receiving a call from ambulance control reporting that a man had been found unresponsive.
"At approximately 9am this morning a call was received by ambulance control to Drogheda garda station that a male had been stabbed at Avenue Road, Dundalk.
"At 9.07am members of an Garda Siochana arrived at the scene, they found a male in an unresponsive state having suffered a stab wound," Supt Mangan said.
He said the man was on his way to work when he was attacked. He added: "It's very hard on the family when someone is walking to work and they get attacked and killed in a foreign country".
Gardai received another call at 9.32am, reporting an incident at Coe's Road in the town, and another call eight minutes later to report an incident at Seatown place. In the latter two incidents, two Irishmen - understood to be in their early 20s and from the area - had been attacked.
"Another call was then received regarding an attack on Coe’s Road, Dundalk where a male had been stabbed," Supt Mangan said.
"And then at approximately 9.40am, a call was received at Dundalk garda station that a male had been attacked with a pole at Seatown Place, Dundalk," he added.
A member of gardai observed the suspect, who was holding a fencing post, and called local gardai for assistance and the suspect was arrested at 9.45am.
Gardai say there is a distinct possibility that the suspect had been carrying two knives.
Councillor Ruairi O Murchu lives close to the scene of the attack in Avenue Road. He said there was major concern among local people.
"The community is in shock," said the Sinn Fein representative. "Our thoughts are with the family of the person killed and those that have been injured."
John McGahon, the chairman of Dundalk Municipal District said, “If it was not for the heroic actions of An Garda Siochana who managed, while unarmed, to disarm a crazed knifeman, there could have been a much higher death toll.”
Cllr McGahon (FG), said, “the whole town is in absolute and total shock. It is an unprecedented attack perpetrated by a sick and twisted individual.”
“Our deepest sympathies go to the family of the person who lost their life and to the two people who were injured.”
Independent.ie earlier incorrectly reported that the suspected attacker was originally from Syria.
Investigating Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to contact Dundalk Garda Station on 042 9388400, the Garda Confidential Line 1 800 666 111 or any Garda Station.