A woman has been arrested after the “totally unprovoked and random” murder of a seven-year-old girl in Bolton.

The 30-year-old suspect, who has not been named, did not know the girl, Greater Manchester police (GMP) said.

The child was stabbed in Queen’s Park in the town on Sunday afternoon at about 2.30pm. Police and paramedics found the girl with “extremely serious injuries”, GMP said. Despite the efforts of her family and medical responders, she died a short time later.

The woman was detained by a member of the public immediately after the attack. She was arrested by police at the scene, initially on suspicion of attempted murder and subsequently for murder.

Russ Jackson, the assistant chief constable of GMP, said: “Words cannot describe how awful this attack is. The family were out in the park, enjoying the spring sun when in a totally unprovoked and random attack this little girl sustained horrendous injuries and sadly died a short while later.”

He said the 30-year-old woman was being held in custody for murder and is expected to be interviewed by detectives later.

He added: “We are working to understand the motive for this completely random and brutal attack. We understand that the woman has some history of mental illness and we are working to understand if this played any part in her motive.

“We have sent specialist family liaison officers to support the family. This is a family’s worst nightmare. The incident is horrendous and I cannot begin to imagine what the family of this little girl are going through. We are determined to quickly understand how this came to happen, leaving a young family so distraught and so devastated in an instant.”

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