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Europe reels from knife violence

A police photograph showing the array of knifes collected from people attending a carnival in Britain.


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Great Britain

LONDON, England (CNN) -- A wave of brutal knife incidents in Britain and Germany have prompted fresh concerns over deteriorating law and order in Europe as police struggle to pull lethal weapons off the streets.

Crime fears were raised this week when horrified officers gathered a haul of 90 dangerous weapons from people arriving at a carnival north of London, fueling outrage among newspapers already reporting regular knife murders.

Britain launched a five-week knife amnesty earlier this month, but many fear it will do little to stem the deadly use of weapons which are readily available to the public.

The incidents have caused particular concern ahead of the World Cup finals, which will see thousands of soccer fans converge on Germany for four-weeks of likely heavy drinking and possible violent clashes.

In Berlin on Saturday, a knife-wielding teenager ran amok among people attending celebrations to mark the opening of a new railway station. Some 28 people were injured in the incident.

In Britain, a series of knife attacks in recent weeks have left several people, including a part-time police officer, dead or fighting for their lives.

On Tuesday, a 29-year-old father of three was stabbed to death in broad daylight outside his home in the west England city of Bristol, a day after the body of a 17-year-old was discovered in a pool of blood after apparently having been knifed in another area of the city.

In another incident on Monday, a man was stabbed to death outside a nightclub in Birmingham, Britain's second largest city. A 19-year-old student was also killed with a knife on a cross-country train on Sunday and another man, aged 26 died from stab wounds after he stepped in to protect a woman in the central city of Nottingham.

The latest litany follows the death of Special police constable Nisha Patel-Nasri, who died when she was stabbed with her own kitchen knife on her doorstep in northwest London on May 11.

And last week, a 14-year-old pupil in Birmingham was seriously injured when he was knifed outside his school.

The level of crime has prompted British police to install airport-style metal detectors at some railway stations in an effort to discourage members of the public from carrying knifes.

Commenting on the haul of weapons recovered ahead of the Luton International Carnival on Monday -- including 57 knifes, knuckledusters, batons, CS and pepper spray canisters and a "taser" electric stun device -- Luton Chief Inspector Peter Buckingham expressed dismay.

"Thankfully the majority of people who attended the carnival were well behaved, but what this does show is that there is a dangerous culture of knife carrying that we must break," he said.

One of Britain's most senior police officers, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, says the country must introduce a mandatory prison sentence for anyone carrying a concealed blade to tackle the worsening culture of knife crime and stabbings.

But critics say the problem exposes deeper problems with British and European society, where tensions with immigrant communities -- who complain of disenfranchisement and persecution -- have sparked recent violence.

On of the UK's biggest-selling newspapers, the conservative Daily Mail, carried a picture of the Luton haul on its front page, under the headline "The Shadow of the Knife."

"It is a picture which chillingly symbolizes the knife epidemic that has brought terror to Britain's streets," the paper said.

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