A man was attacked with a samurai sword while children and families watched in horror from a nearby playground.

The stabbing, which took place in broad daylight yesterday afternoon, meant police established a large cordon at the scene in Northlands Park, Pitsea, near the lakes.

Reports vary about the nature of the weapon with witnesses reporting the attacker using a machete while the police have stated it was a samurai sword.

Witnesses described a heated argument turning violent after two men approached another two men and a woman in the park.

One witness took to Facebook to express his horror at what took place.

The man, who will remain anonymous, said: “A couple of fellas jumped out of a car, started arguing with two other blokes and a woman then they just pulled out machetes and started whacking each other.

“It was right in front of everyone’s kids and everything. It looked like a bit of banter at first then it just went manic.”

A police cordon was in place until the late hours of last night and a forensic investigator was on scene at about 5pm taking photographs of suspected blood spatter and collecting evidence.

The incident has sparked fears among the community that the area is no longer safe due to the brazen nature of the daylight attack.

Tina Jennings wrote on Facebook: “Why always there? It is such a lovely park but so much bad stuff keeps happening there. I don’t want to take my kids there anymore.

“I know bad stuff happens everywhere but I’ve seen so much over the years at this park.

“Something needs to be done.”

A spokesman from Essex Police said:”Officers are investigating after a man was stabbed in Northlands Park, Basildon, earlier today.

“We were called just after 3.35pm on September 4, following reports that a man had been stabbed with what was described as a samurai sword.

“The victim attended hospital, but did not require any further medical treatment.

“Our enquiries are ongoing and we believe this was a targeted attack.

“Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 101 quoting incident number 775 of 04/09.”

Alternatively, if you know anything about the incident you can contact independent crimefighting charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information