A search was underway in Birmingham, England, on Sunday for a man who was said to have carried out a series of stabbings across the city that left at least one person dead and seven more wounded, two of them seriously, the police said.
They were looking for one man thought to be responsible for what appeared to be a “random attack,” the police said.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham of the West Midlands Police said that officers were still searching for a motive, but that there was no indication the stabbings were related to terrorism, a hate crime or gang violence.
The police have confirmed that at least one man was killed and that two people, a man and a woman, had serious injuries. Five others were also wounded, and their injuries were described as minor.
No link has been established among the victims, leading the police to believe that the stabbings were done at random.
They declared the situation a “major incident,” a designation that describes any episode involving serious harm or a security risk to the public. A murder investigation has been opened.
The attacks happened in several spots across central Birmingham, a city about 120 miles northwest of London. The first was reported to the police shortly after midnight in the north of the city, and the others followed over the next few hours, ending in an area known for its busy nightlife. The police said they believed that the stabbings were linked and that one man was responsible for the crimes.
“We are doing everything we can to trace the offender,” Superintendent Graham said at a news conference. The police were combing through surveillance video to identify the attacker, and they urged anyone who was in the city center late Saturday or early Sunday to share information, photographs or video related to the attacks.
The authorities did not release a detailed description of the man they are seeking. The police said they were still interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence, and added that more information on a suspect would be released in due course.
A witness to one stabbing told Sky News that he had seen a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and a cap stabbing a woman in the neck several times. The man evaded attempts by other witnesses to chase him.
“It happened very quickly,” the witness, Savvas Sfrantziz, a bar owner in the nightlife area, told Sky News. “He just went up to her and just stabbed her. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
David Nash, who runs another bar in the same area, said that as the bars were closing around 2 a.m., he saw someone in a hooded top walking down the street and heard someone shout, “Stop him — he’s just stabbed somebody!”
“Then, of course, this person took off into the night,” Mr. Nash told BBC News. The area was soon overrun by emergency vehicles, he added.
The police have urged Birmingham residents to be alert, warning that the attacker was still at large, and they promised to increase the presence of uniformed and armed officers within the city center on Sunday.
“Our emergency services are working hard to find whoever is responsible and bring them to justice,” Britain’s home secretary, Priti Patel, said on Twitter.
The country’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said it was “a very serious incident” and urged anyone in the area to “be vigilant.”
David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said, “We’re well used on a Friday and Saturday night to activity, but I think what is different is the randomness of this particular event.”
Serious violent crime, including stabbings, has risen sharply in Britain in recent years. While gun crime is a rare occurrence compared with the United States, Britain has faced a large increase in knife crime.
Six people, including a police officer, were injured in Glasgow, Scotland, in late June amid a stabbing attack in a hotel. Days earlier, three people were killed and three others injured in a stabbing at a park in Reading, England, in what the authorities described as a terrorist incident.