A 28-year-old man has been arrested by armed police officers after a woman, who is believed to be pregnant, was stabbed in a “targeted attack” in the village of Aberfan in south Wales.
The attack led to armed officers combing Aberfan and nearby villages in search of the suspect while local schools and a childcare centre were put into lockdown.
On Tuesday, South Wales police said in a statement: “Following a report that a 29-year-old woman had been stabbed on Moy Road, Aberfan this morning, officers have arrested a 28-year-old man from Merthyr on suspicion of attempted murder. He is currently in police custody.”
Police said the man and woman were known to each other.
Ch Insp Rob Miles said: “I appreciate that there will be a real sense of shock within the local community with the attack having happened in broad daylight. I would like to reassure the public that we believe this to be a targeted attack.
“There will be an increased police presence in the area over the coming days to provide reassurance to local residents and the wider community.
“I would like to thank the local community for their patience and support throughout today’s police operation whilst we traced and arrested the suspect.”
The woman remains in hospital with injuries which are not believed to be life-threatening at this time.
Schools will open as normal on Wednesday.
The woman was taken by ambulance to hospital after the incident in Aberfan, south of Merthyr Tydfil, at about 9.10am. Residents said they believed the woman is pregnant.
At about 3.30pm, armed police arrived at a street in the nearby village of Troedyrhiw, three miles from the scene of the stabbing. Neighbours said one man was taken away from a terraced house by the police.
Lynette Tyner said: “He came out in bare feet. He was handcuffed. They put a hoodie over his face so you couldn’t see who it was. He came out calmly.”
Witnesses to the attack described how neighbours went to help the woman.
Katie Roberts, who was one of the first on the scene, said: “I was at home when I heard screaming and thought it was kids messing about.
“But I looked out of the window and saw a man with a large knife in his hand standing over a woman on the road outside.”
The veterinary nurse said the woman was still conscious but bleeding quite badly from several stab wounds. She said: “She was very brave and worried about her baby – she is 37 weeks pregnant.
“It was shocking, another neighbour dialled 999 and the police were here quickly. I’m just hoping she is going to be all right.”
Gareth Jones, a local resident, said of the woman: “She’s not been here for long and was heavily pregnant. She was taking her child to one of the local schools when this man came out of nowhere.”
An air ambulance landed on the nearby Taff Trail walking track to take the woman to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
Jones, 64, said: “Another police helicopter was hovering above the village and the street has been cordoned off.”
The attack happened close to the scene of the 1966 Aberfan disaster, in which 116 children and 28 adults were killed when a colliery tip collapsed on to the village school.
Jones, one of the few children to survive the catastrophe, said: “The air ambulance landed behind the Aberfan disaster memorial gardens. This is the most police activity we’ve had in the village since that dreadful day. There are forensic officers in white suits at the spot where she was attacked. Everyone is just praying the woman is going to be OK.”
Local schools went into lockdown after the attack. At home time – before the arrest – police stood guard at the gates of Ynysowen community primary school and pupils were allowed out in small groups at a time with teachers making sure they were picked up by their parents. None were allowed to walk home alone.
The Welsh ambulance service said: “We sent one emergency ambulance, one air ambulance and one Cymru high acuity response unit to the scene where advanced critical care support was delivered by the emergency medical retrieval and transfer service. We conveyed one patient by road to University hospital of Wales, Cardiff for further treatment.”
Rhiannon Davies, the headteacher of Greenfield school, which is 2.5 miles away from Moy Road, posted on X: “We are aware of an ongoing police incident in Aberfan. We just wanted to reassure you that as a precaution we are keeping the pupils safe inside the building, and all perimeter gates are locked.”
The Trinity childcare and family centre also locked its doors to keep staff and children safe.