© Jonathan Brady/PA
Officers search through a bin in Seven Kings, Ilford, near where three people died after being stabbed.
Residents of a north-east London street where three men were stabbed and bled to death have described the horrific aftermath of the attack.

Two men, aged 29 and 39, were arrested on suspicion of murder on Monday after the trio were pronounced dead at the scene on Sunday night in Seven Kings, Ilford.

Det Ch Supt Stephen Clayman, commander of the Metropolitan police's east area basic command unit, initially said he believed the people involved were Sikhs. But a statement released later on Monday revealed that officers believed some of the men to be from the Hindu community as well.

Officers stressed they did not think the incident was "gang or race-related". Det Ch Insp Paul Considine said: "We now believe all those involved were known to each other and from the Sikh and Hindu community, however we are still in the process of identifying the men and working to inform their next of kin."

He added: "I would encourage anyone in the local communities who knows what the motivation for this attack was, or to anyone who may have seen the incident on Salisbury Road, to contact us and tell us what they know."

Residents of Elmstead Road, near where the three men died, said a fight broke out just after 7.30pm on Sunday. Louis O'Donohue, who lives on the street, was watching snooker when he heard screaming and shouting, in what he said sounded like a foreign language.

"I took no notice of it at the time," he told reporters as he passed through a police cordon on Monday morning. "Then I heard screaming and shouting. It was just chaos, absolute chaos. It was like something out of a movie, horrific."

Video seen by the Guardian of the immediate aftermath of the attack showed at least two victims curled up on the floor, surrounded by blood. "Ya Allah [dear God]," a voice in the video can be heard saying. "He's breathing. He's breathing. Check this one, he's breathing."

A second resident, who declined to give her name, said she called an ambulance after emerging from her house to find the three victims lying in the street. She saw police attempting to resuscitate two of the victims, with the third apparently already dead. She said: "So much blood. I can't take that image out of my mind."

All three men had suffered stab wounds and were pronounced dead at the scene. Postmortem examinations would be arranged in due course, said the Met.

A wide police cordon remained around the area where the men were killed, including the next street along and portions of the nearby high street. The area where the men died is a dead end where an alleyway staircase leads up to Seven Kings train station.

The three victims were Punjabi-speaking Indian immigrants who were often seen in the area, said locals. All were said to be in their 30s. One man said he had regularly chased them away from outside his business.

Jas Athwal, the leader of Redbridge council, was among those at the cordon near to where the men were killed. He lives close to the scene and is from the Sikh community. He said: "This is unheard of here, in terms of people from the Sikh community involved ... This is tragic. We have got to find answers and at the moment we have got to let the police do their job."