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A woman has been detained under the Mental Health Act after a seven-year-old girl was stabbed to death in a park.

The little girl was walking with her family in Queen’s Park, near Bolton town centre, on Sunday afternoon when she was attacked.

A 30-year-old woman was then detained by a passer-by before police arrived and arrested her on suspicion of murder. The woman is not known to the family of the little girl.

Police say the child suffered ‘horrendous’ injuries in the attack and, despite the best efforts of her family and emergency services, died a short while later.

Assistant chief constable Russ Jackson said officers have informed the girl’s family of the woman’s detention.

He said: ‘They are understandably distraught over what happened yesterday and we will continue to support them with family liaison officers in the coming months.

‘It is hard to describe how terrible this incident was, the attack happened in front of the parents of this little girl who had taken her out yesterday afternoon to enjoy the spring sun and play in the park.

‘Having seen this horrendous attack, a member of the public bravely chased after the woman and detained her until police arrived and arrested her. I would like to thank him for his actions which enabled us to quickly arrest her and prevent anything else from happening.

‘Several officers who attended the park were very young in service in the police, some with only weeks on independent police patrol. They and all the officers who went to the scene are incredibly upset over what has happened and all of us have this little girl and her family in our thoughts.

‘I want to stress that this is not an end to the criminal investigation, we will consider the evidence and consult with the Crown Prosecution Service and if appropriate we will be seeking criminal charges.’

There was a huge response from the emergency services following the attack, shortly after 2.30pm.

The entire 22 acre park, which lies about a quarter of a mile to the west of the town centre, was cordoned off with dozens of police officers guarding the entrances and perimeter.

Kyra Coop was in the park at the time of the stabbing. She said: ‘We saw two police officers

running across the park as fast as they could. Then we saw the air ambulance hovering over and landing.

‘You know when you see that it is something serious. Then a girl ran over and said a little girl had been stabbed.

‘The police started coming round and asking everyone to leave, and that’s what we did.

‘It left us really shaken up. We had to reassure the kids as they were really upset.’