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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 20 October 2020

Dundalk stabbing: Egyptian teenager spoke to gardaí about asylum days before attack

A young Japanese man was killed and two other men injured yesterday morning.

THE MAN DETAINED in the wake of a series of attacks in Dundalk yesterday morning that left one man dead and injured two others had spoken to gardaí on Monday of this week about seeking asylum in Ireland.

The 18-year-old Egyptian national was detained shortly after the attacks and remains in custody in the Co Louth town this morning.

Gardaí are investigating whether the man had recently been refused asylum in the UK, prompting him to travel to Ireland instead.

Officers here will now liaise with their UK counterparts and the country’s Home Office to source any additional information they may have on the man.

Authorities in Egypt have also been contacted and information on the man’s history has been requested.

Stabbing Ireland The scene of the attack on Avenue Road in Dundalk. Source: David Young/PA

Dundalk gardaí described the attacks as random and unprovoked – and said that terrorism had not been ruled out as a motive.

A 24-year-old man from Japan died after being stabbed shortly before 9am, while two other men were injured on two other nearby streets.

The two local men who were attacked – one believed to be in his early 20s – did not sustain serious injuries.

Uniformed and unarmed Garda officers managed to subdue and arrest the alleged killer.

The arrested man is being held at Dundalk Garda Station. A post-mortem was carried out on the body of the Japanese victim at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda yesterday evening.

It is now thought he came to Ireland from Scotland, having taken a ferry to Belfast and travelling into the Republic.

Officers believe the man needed help in arranging tickets and transport into Ireland.

Profile of arrested man 

Elite members of the Garda Special Detective Unit (SDU) and officers from the Garda computer crime unit are working to piece together a profile of the arrested man.

Addressing the media yesterday, Dundalk’s Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan said that an act of terror was one of the lines of inquiry being investigated. However, he stressed that a motive for the attack had not yet been established.

Officers are understood to have identified the attacker but said they had no indication as to why he was in Dundalk. Early investigations suggest the man has no links to the region.

Officers are also attempting to ascertain exactly when he arrived in the jurisdiction.

When he came to the force’s attention on New Year’s Day, he showed no signs of erratic behaviour, senior officers said yesterday.

The man had a smartphone in his possession yesterday. Gardaí will now examine that device to look for any material which may suggest the young man had been radicalised or ordered to carry out the attack.

It’s also hoped officers may find clues in his social media accounts as to how he arrived in Ireland and why he carried out the Dundalk attacks.

It’s thought that he had been carrying two knives before he carried out his first attack. He was carrying a metal fencing pole when arrested.

The attack would have required a degree of planning – a red flag for officers investigating the incident’s potential terror link.

img2.thejournal.ie Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Gardaí believe this to be an isolated incident, and said at yesterday’s press briefing that they do not believe the assailant was working with anyone when he carried out the attack.

The threat of a terrorist attack in Ireland has, for the last year, been deemed to be possible but unlikely from our politicians and by Garda management.

But that does not mean that gardaí have not upped their surveillance of potential radicals.

Last year, we reported that specialist armed garda units were directed to beef up security in several Irish cities. Members of the Garda Armed Support Unit (ASU) were dispatched to the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Kilkenny.

The directive came as a proactive and preventative measure in the wake of the terror attacks on Manchester and London.

The ASU was unveiled in late 2016 as a high-profile specialist unit, equipped with firearms and other weapons and with members trained as emergency first-responders.

three The locations of the three crime scenes. Source: Google Maps

Local reaction 

Locals who spoke to TheJournal.ie yesterday said Dundalk had been left stunned  by the attacks.

Fianna Fáil councillor Emma Coffey, who lives just minutes from the scene of the fatal attack on the young Japanese man, said that residents were “trying to digest what has happened”.

One thing I’m glad of is that the schools were off because there would be a number of secondary schools and primary schools in the area that people would have been going to at that time of the morning. It’s an absolute tragedy what happened – three people, one lost his life and two injured, I just feel so sorry for that poor young man, may he rest in peace.

Fine Gael councillor Maria Doyle said there had been a “sombre mood” around Dundalk town.

No one likes to hear of anything like this on their doorstep. I think it’s the randomness of it that’s frightening. There have been quite a number of murders across the country recently and they’re all shocking, but this is particularly shocking as it happened at a time when people were heading off to work in the morning.

Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to contact:

  • Dundalk Garda Station on 042 938 8400
  • The Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111
  • Or any Garda station

They are particularly interested in speaking to anyone who was in the Avenue Road area shortly before 9am, or on Coes Road, Seatown Place or the Inner Relief Road between 8.30am and 9.40am.

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy 

Read: Gardaí say Dundalk attack ‘random and unprovoked’ – terrorism has not yet been ruled out >

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