A knifeman who stabbed three people at a Manchester shopping centre has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism, Greater Manchester Police have said.

Police were called to the Arndale Centre at 11.15am on Friday to reports of a stabbing.

The suspect, who is in his 40s, was detained and three people were taken to hospital with stab injuries.

Witnesses described a scene of terror as shoppers, some with injuries, sought refuge in stores.

Officers from Counter Terrorism Police North West were called in to investigate, and at around 3.15pm, Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said the suspect had been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of an act of terrorism.

He added that investigators did not believe anyone else to be involved in the attack.

He was first arrested on suspicion of a serious assault, the force said.

Greater Manchester Police initially stated five people had been injured, but later amended the figure to four.

A 19-year-old woman and another woman for whom no age was given were both taken to hospital with stab injuries and their condition was described as stable by the force.

A man in his 50s was also hospitalised with stab wounds, while a woman in her 40s was treated by paramedics at the scene but was not stabbed.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) said one patient had suffered "serious" injuries.

NWAS tweeted: "We have treated four patients, including one patient with serious injuries, and all have been taken to hospital."

It said that it had been stood down from the incident at 1.56pm and thanked the public for "their assistance and patience" as they treated those who had been hurt.

One shop worker, who gave his name only as Jordan, 23, told the PA news agency: "A man was running around with a knife lunging at multiple people, one of which came into my store visibly shaken with a small graze.

"Soon after, security staff told all retail staff to close their doors and move the public to the back of the stores."

Jordan, who has only been working at the centre for a few months, said the attack took place on the ground floor.

Freddie Houlder, 22, from Market Drayton, was in the centre when he heard "a load of screams just outside" the shop he was in.

He said a woman then came into the shop and told others "a guy just ran past the shop and tried to stab me".

Mr Houlder added: "Luckily she had quite a thick jacket - she thought originally it was a fake knife because of how easily it grazed off but police came in and said it was a real knife and she burst in to tears."

He said he was evacuated several minutes later, at which point he saw "a bunch of curtains covering someone seriously injured or dead, I don't know".

"I definitely don't think it was gang violence because this guy was going around trying to stab random people, I believe."

A member of the Malone family, who frequently appear on Channel 4's Gogglebox, was also caught up in the incident.

Someone tweeted from the Gogglebox Malones' account that they had been evacuated from the centre.

Members of the Malone family to appear on the show are parents Julie and Tom Snr and their sons Tom Jr and Shaun.

Tom and Julie Malone also have two other children and two grandchildren.

One of them posted: "A big thank you to all MCR Arndale security and the police who attended so quickly x "Prayers to those that have been hurt, I'm just sat outside the city centre shaking a little bit and hugging my grandkids."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "shocked by the incident and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected".

Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester's deputy mayor for policing, crime and fire, said: "I want to praise Greater Manchester's emergency services for their swift and professional action.

"Our thoughts are with the five people injured.

"The scene has been secured and all emergency services are engaged in ensuring public safety - the investigation is ongoing."

Mr Mohammed Shafiq, CEO of the Ramadhan Foundation said, “I strongly condemn the stabbing incident at Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre. This was an appalling attack against people going about their lives. Out city has been tested in the past and will always answer with unity and with a resolute response against such violence.

"I want to pay tribute to the Emergency services who have helped in the aftermath and through their bravery stopped the attack from being more brutal.

"Our city of Manchester is a vibrant, diverse and united place and we will not allow anyone to divide us. "We are heartened with the additional presence of police on the streets which offers reassurance the authorities will do everything to keep us safe."