NOTTINGHAM, June 13 (Reuters) - British police said a man had been arrested on suspicion of murder after three people were found dead on the street in the central English city of Nottingham on Tuesday and three were injured after an attempt to run them over with a van.

Detectives said they had an open mind about the motive for the linked incidents, which began just after 4 a.m. (0300 GMT), and added that counter-terrorism officers were working on the investigation, although they said this was normal.

Two of those killed were students from one of the city's universities. A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and detectives said they were not looking for anyone else.

The major operation, which led to many roads across Nottingham being closed, began after police were called to a report of two people being stabbed and left unresponsive on a road in the city centre. Both were 19 years old.

Officers were then alerted to another incident not far away where someone driving a van had tried to run over three people, leaving one man in a critical condition in hospital while the other two suffered minor injuries.

Another man in his fifties was then found dead from knife injuries shortly afterwards on a road about two miles from the first incident. Police said they believed the suspect had stolen this man's van, which was used to injure the three people.

"We are keeping an open mind as we investigate the circumstances surrounding these incidents and are working alongside Counter Terrorism Policing to establish the facts – as we would normally do in these types of circumstances," Chief Constable Kate Meynell said.

"We are at the early stages of the investigation and need to determine the motives behind these attacks and will keep the public updated as soon as we are able to say more."

Police said they had searched a number of addresses in the city but that there had been no further arrests.

[1/5] Police forensic officers work near a van in a cordon on the Bentinck Road following a major incident in Nottingham city centre, Nottingham, Britain, June 13, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble

The University of Nottingham said two of those killed were its students.

"We are shocked and devastated by the news and our thoughts are with those affected, their families and friends," the university said on Twitter.

Witness Lynn Haggitt told BBC TV she had seen a van hit a man and a woman who were left lying in the street.

"He went straight into these two people. The woman went on the kerb, the man went up in the air," she said. "There was such a bang. I wish I never saw it. It's really shaken me up."

Inside one of the police cordons, officers were guarding a white van with its passenger door wide open and a rucksack lying on the ground beside it. It had damage to its bonnet and windscreen.

At Ilkeston Road, where the two people were found dead, medical equipment was strewn across the street.

"I am being kept updated on developments. The police must be given the time to undertake their work," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote on Twitter, calling the incident "shocking".

Several major roads around the city remained closed and the Nottingham tram network was suspended.

"Awful news for our city to wake up to today," Alex Norris, a lawmaker for Nottingham, said on Twitter. "Our community’s thoughts and prayers are with all those affected."

Writing by Michael Holden; reporting by Sarah Young, Sachin Ravikumar and William James; Editing by Kate Holton, Kevin Liffey, Alexandra Hudson, Nick Macfie and Deepa Babington

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Sachin Ravikumar is a correspondent for Reuters in London covering general news from across the UK. Over nine years at Reuters, he has helped run various breaking news teams, reported on business and general news from India and worked as a desk editor.

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